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VOL. I. 


THE RELL OF ST. PAUL'S. By Walter Besant. 

3 vols. 

FOR THE LOVE OF A LASS. By Austin Clare. 

2 vols. 

FETTERED FOR LIFE. By Frank Barrett. 

3 vols. 

PASSION'S SLAVE. By Richard Ashe King. 

3 vols. 

ARTHUR. By Mark Twain, i vol. 

THE DEAD MAN'S SECRET ; or, the Valley of 
Gold. By J. E. Muddock. i vol. 

W. Clakk Russell, i vol. 

London : CHATTO & WINDUS, Piccadilly, W. 

Blind Love 




VOL. I. 

IT n b It 

The Illustrations to this Story are reproduced jroin 
' The Illustrated London News,^ by kind permission of 
the P7-oprietors of that Journal 




Jv J^N the month of August, and in the middle of 
the seaside holiday, a message came to me 
from Wilkie Collins, then, though ice hoped 

^ otherwise, on his death-bed. 

It was conveyed to me by Mr. A. P. Watt. 
f^ The icords of his letter were as follows : ' I 
J have just come from Wilkie Collins, who is 
J very ill. He told me that his novel, " Blind 
V Love,'' is unfinished, and that it is quite im- 
possible for him to tJiiidc of finishing it. Then 
he said : " Ash Walter Besant if he ivill finish 
it for me. Tell him that I would do as much 
>^for him if he were in my r)lace and I in his. 
^ If he has the time I tlnnk he will do this for 
' f vie. We are both old hands at the work, and 



vje understand it.'' He has placed in my 
hands the notes of the remainder^ which I will 
forward to you if you can accede to his request. 
Under the circumstances of the case, it was 
impossible to decline this request. I wrote to 
say that time should he made, and the notes 
were forwarded to me at Bohin Hood's Bay. I 
began by reading carefully and twice over, so 
as to get a grip of the story and the novelist's 
intention, the part that had already appeared in 
the ' Blustrated London News,' and the proofs so 
far as the author had gone. 1 then turried to the 
notes. I found that these were not merely notes, 
such as I had expected — simple indications of 
the plot and the develoqoment of events — hut an 
actual detailed scenario, in which every incident, 
however trivial, teas carefully laid down: there 
were also fragments of dialogue inserted at 
those places where dialogue was wanted to em- 
phasise the situation and make it real. I was 
much struck with the writer's perception of the 


vast importance of dialogue in making the 
reader seize the scene. Description requires 
attention : dialogue rivets attention. 

It is not an easy task, nor is it pleasant, to 
carry on another mans work : hut the possession 
of this scenario lightened the work enormously. 
I have been careful to adhere faithfully and 
exactly to the plot, scene by scene, down to the 
smallest detail as it icas laid down by the author 
in this book. I have altered nothing. I have 
jyreserved and incorporated every fragment of 
dialogue. I have used the very language 
wherever that was ivritten so carefidly as to 
show that it was meant to be used. I think that 
there is only one trivial detail ichere I had to 
choose, because it was not clear from the notes 
what the author had intended. The plot of the 
novel, every scene, every situation, from begin- 
ning to end, is the work of Wilkie Collins. The 
actual writing is entirely his up to a certain 
point: froon that point to the end it is his in 


fragments^ hut mainly mine. Where his writing 
ends and mine begins^ I need not point out. 
The practised critic will, no douht, at once lay 
his finger on the spot. 

I have therefore cariied out the author s 
wishes to the best of my ahility. Would that 
he icere liviiig still, if only to regret that he had 
not been allowed to finish his last work with his 
oimi hand ! 

Walter Be s ant. 













VIII. HER father's MESSAGE .... 










XIV. THE lady's-maid 278 

XV. MR. Henley's temper . . . . . . 288 





DELAY ' Froritispiece 

INTELLIGIBLE WRITING. . . . To face i^age 13 









OON after sunrise, on 
a cloudy morning 
in the year 1881, 
a special messen- 
ger disturbed the 
repose of Dennis 
)A Howmore, at his 

place of residence in the pleasant Irish town 
of Ardoon. 

Well acquainted apparently with the way 
upstairs, the man thumped on a bedroom 
door, and shouted Lis message through it 

/, VOL. I. 



' The master wants you, and mind you don't 
keep liim waLling.' 

The person sendmg tliis peremptory mes- 
sage was Sir Giles Mountjoy of Ardoon ; 
knight and l}anker. Tlie person receiving 
the message was Sir Giles's head clerk. As a 
matter of course, Dennis Howmore dressed 
himself at full speed, and hastened to his 
emplvoyer's private house on the outskirts of 
the town. 

He found Sir Giles in an irritable and 
anxious state of mind. A letter lay open on 
the banker's bed, his night-cap was crumpled 
crookedly on his head, he was in too great a 
hurry to remember the claims of politeness, 
when the clerk said ' Good-mornino\' 

' Dennis, I have got something for you to 
do. It must be kept a secret, and it allows 
of no delay.' 

' Is it anything connected with business, 


The banker lost his temper. ' How can 
you be such an infernal fool as to suppose 
that anything connected with business could 
happen at this time in the morning ? Do you 
know the first milestone on the road to 
Garvan ? ' 

' Yes, sir/ 

' Very w^ell. Go to the milestone, and 
take care that nobody sees you when you get 
there. Look at the back of the stone. If 
you discover an Object which appears to 
have been left in that situation, on tlie 
ground, brino- it to me ; and don't forget that 
the most impatient man in all Ireland is wait- 
ing for you.' 

Not a word of explanation followed these 
extraordinary instructions. 

The head clerk set forth on his errand, 
with his mind dweUing on the national 
tendencies to conspiracy and assassination. 
His employer was not a popular person. Sir 


Giles liacl paid rent when lie owed it ; and, 
worse still, was disposed to remember in a 
friendly spirit what England had done for 
Ireland, in the course of the last fifty years. 
If anything appeared to justify distrust of the 
mysterious Object of which he was in search, 
Dennis resolved to be vigilantly on the look- 
out for a gun- barrel, whenever he passed a 
hedge on his return journey to the town. 

Arrived at the milestone, he discovered 
on the ground behind it one Object only — a 
fragment of a broken tea-cup. 

Naturally enough, Dennis hesitated. It 
seemed to be impossible that tlie earnest and 
careful instructions which he had received 
could relate to such a trifle as this. At the 
same time, he was acting under orders which 
were as positive as tone, manner, and language 
could make them. Passive obedience ap- 
peared to be the one safe course to take — at 
the risk of a reception, irritating to any man's 


self-respect, when he returned to his employer 
with a broken tea-cup in his hand. 

The event entirely failed to justify his 
misgivings. There could be no doubt that 
Sir Giles attached serious importance to the 
contemptible discovery made at the milestone. 
After having examined and re-examined the 
fragment, he announced his intention of send- 
ing the clerk on a second errand — still with- 
out troubling himself to explain what his 
incomprehensible instructions meant. 

' If I am not mistaken,' he began, ' the 
Reading Rooms, in our town, open as early 
as nine. Very well. Go to the Rooms this 
morning, on the stroke of the clock.' He 
stopped, and consulted the letter which lay 
open on his bed. ' Ask the librarian,' he 
continued, ' for the third volume of Gibbon's 
" Dechne and Fall of the Roman Empire." 
Open the book at pages seventy-eight and 
seventy-nine. If you find a piece of paper 


between those two leaves, take possession of 
it when nobody is looking at you, and bring 
it to me. That's all, Dennis. And bear in 
mind that I shall not recover the use of my 
patience till I see you again.' 

On ordinary occasions, the head clerk was 
not a man accustomed to insist on what was 
due to his dignity. At the same time he 
was a sensible human beimj, conscious of the 
consideration to which his responsible place 
in the office entitled him. Sir Giles's irritat- 
ing reserve, not even excused by a word of 
apology, reached the limits of his endurance. 
He respectfully protested. 

' I regret to find, sir,' he said, ' that I have 
lost my place in my employer's estimation. 
The man to whom you confide the superin- 
tendence of your clerks and the transaction 
of your business has, I venture to think, some 
claim (under the present circumstances) to be 


The banker was now offended on Ids side. 

' I readily admit your claim,' he answered, 
' when you are sitting at your desk in my 
office. But, even in these days of strikes, 
co-operations, and bank holidays, an employer 
has one privilege left — he has not ceased to be 
a Man, and he has not forfeited a man's right 
to keep his own secrets. I fail to see any- 
thing in my conduct which has given you 
just reason to complain.' 

Dennis, rebuked, made his bow in silence, 
and withdrew. 

Did these acts of humility mean that he 
submitted ? They meant exactly the con- 
trary. He had made up his mind that Sir 
Giles Mountjoy's motives should, sooner or 
later, cease to be mysteries to Sir Giles 
Mountjoy's clerk. 



Carefully following his instruc- 
tions, he consulted the third 
volume of Gibbon's great History, 
and found, between the seventj^-eighth and 
seventy-ninth pages, something remarkable 
this time. 

It was a sheet of delicately-made paper, 
pierced with a number of little holes, infi- 
nitely varied in size, and cut with the 
smoothest precision. Having secured this 
curious object, while the librarian's back was 
turned, Dennis Howmore reflected. 

A page of paper, unintelligibly perforated 
for some purpose unknown, was in itself a 
suspicious thing. And what did suspicion 
suggest to tlie inquiring mind in South- 


Western Ireland, before the suppression of 
tlie Land League ? Unquestionably — Police ! 
On the way back to his employer, the 
banker's clerk paid a visit to an old friend — a 
journalist by profession ; and a man of varied 
learning and experience as well. Livited to 
inspect the remarkable morsel of paper, and 
to discover tlie object with which the perfora- 
tions had been made, the authority consulted 
proved to be worthy of the trust reposed in 
him. Dennis left the newspaper-office an 
enlightened man — with information at the 
disposal of Sir Giles, and with a sense of relief 
which expressed itself irreverently in these 
words : ' Xow I have got him ! ' 

The bewildered banker looked backwards 
and forwards from the paper to the clerk, and 
from the clerk to the paper. ' I don't under- 
stand it,' he said. ' Do you ? ' 

Still preserving the appearance of humility, 
Dennis asked leave to venture on a iruess. 


The perforated paper looked, as he thought, 
like a Puzzle. ' If we wait for a day or two,' 
he suggested, ' the Key to it may possibly 
reach us.' 

On the next day, nothing happened. On 
the day after, a second letter made another 
audacious demand on the fast-failing patience 
of Sir Giles Mountjoy. 

Even the envelope proved to be a puzzle 
on this occasion ; the postmark was 'Ardoon.' 
In other words, the writer had used the post- 
man as a messenger, while he or his accom- 
plice was actually in the town posting the letter 
within half a minute's walk of the bank ! The 
contents presented an im])enetrable mystery, 
the writing looked worthy of a madman. 
Sentences appeared in the wildest state of con- 
fusion, and words were so mutilated as to be 
unintelhgible. This time, the force of circum- 
stances was more tlian Sir Giles could resist. 
He took the clerk into his confidence at last. 


' Let US begin at the beginning,' he said. 
'There is the letter you saw on my bed, when 
I first sent for you. I found it waiting on my 
table when I woke ; and I don't know who 
put it there. Eead it.' 

Dennis read as follows : 

' Sir Giles Mountjoy, — I have a disclosure 
to make, in which one of the members of your 
family is seriously interested. Before I can 
venture to explain myself, I must be assured 
that I can trust to your good faith. As a 
test of this, I require you to fulfil the two con- 
ditions that follow — and to do it without the 
slightest loss of time. I dare not trust you 
yet with my address, or my signature. Any act 
of carelessness, on my part, might end fatally 
for the true friend who writes these lines. If 
you neglect this warning, you will regret it to 
the end of your life.' 

To the conditions on which the letter in- 
sisted there is no need to allude. They had 


been complied with when the discoveries were 
made at the back of the milestone, and be- 
tween the pages of Gibbon's History. Sir 
Giles had already arrived at the conclu- 
sion that a conspiracy was in progress to 
assassinate him, and perhaps to rob the 
bank. The wiser head clerk pointed to the 
perforated paper and the incomprehensible 
writing received that morning. ' If we can 
find out what these mean,' he said, '^o\\ 
may be better able, sir, to form a correct 

'And who is to do that.^' the banker 

' I can but try, sir,' was the modest reply, 
'if you see no objection to my making the 

Sir Giles approved of the proposed experi- 
ment, silently and satirically, by a bend of his 

Too discreet a man to make a suspiciously 

Liftms the pC7-forated paper, he placed it delicately over the page luhich contained tJic 
unintelligible ivritiiig. 


ready use of the information which he liad 
privately obtained, Dennis took care that his 
first attempt should not be successful. After 
modestly asking permission to try again, he 
ventured on the second occasion to arrive at a 
happy discovery. Lifting the perforated paper, 
he placed it delicately over the page which con- 
tained the unintelligible writing. Words and 
sentences now appeared (through the holes 
in the paper) in their right spelling and 
arrangement, and addressed Sir Giles in these 
terms : 

*I beg to thank you, sir, for complying 
with my conditions. You have satisfied me 
of your good faith. At the same time, it is 
possible that you may liesitate to trust a man 
who is not yet able to admit you to his 
confidence. The perilous position in which I 
stand obliges me to ask for two or three days 
more of delay, before I can safely make an 
appointment with you. Pray be patient — and 


on no account apply for advice or protection 
to the police.' 

' Those last words,' Sir Giles declared, ' are 
conclusive ! The sooner I am under the care 
of the law the better. Take my card to tlie 

' May I say a word first, sir ? ' 

' Do you mean that you don't agree with 
me? ' 

' I mean that.' 

'You were always an obstinate man, 
Dennis ; and it grows on you as you get 
older. Never mind ! Let's have it out. 
Who do you say is the person pointed at in 
these rascally letters ? ' 

The head clerk took up the first letter of 
the two, and pointed to the opening sentence : 
'Sir Giles Mountjoy, — I have a disclosure to 
make in which one of the members of your 
family is seriously interested.' Dennis em- 
phatically repeated the words : * one of the 


members of your family.' Ilis employer re- 
garded liim with a broad stare of astonisli- 

' One of the members of my family ? ' Sir 
Giles repeated, on liis side. 'Why, man 
alive, what are you thinking of? I'm an old 
bachelor, and I haven't got a family.' 

' There is your brother, sir.' 

' My brother is in France — out of the way 
of the wretches who are threatening me. I 
wish I was with him ! ' 

'There are your brother's two sons, Sir 

' Well ? And what is there to be afraid of? 
My nephew, Hugh, is in London — and, mind ! 
not on a pohtical errand. I hope, before 
long, to hear that he is going to be married 
— if the strangest and nicest girl in England 
will have him. What's wrong now ? ' 

Dennis explained. ' I only wished to say, 
sir, that I was thinking of your other nephew.' 


Sir Giles laughed. ' Arthur in danger ! ' 
he exclaimed. 'As harmless a young man as 
ever lived. The worst one can say of him is 
that he is throwing away his money — farming 
in Kerry.' 

" Excuse me, Sir Giles ; there's not much 
chance of his throwing away liis money, 
where he is now. Nobody will venture to 
take his money. I met with one of ]\Ir. 
Arthur's neighbours at the market yesterday. 
Your nephew is boycotted.' 

' So much the better,' the obstinate 
banker declared. 'He will be cured of his 
craze for farming ; and he will come back to 
the place I am keeping for him in the office.' 

' God grant it ! ' the clerk said fervently. 

For the moment, Sir Giles was staggered. 
' Have you heard something that you haven't 
told me yet ? ' lie asked. 

'No, sir. I am only bearing in mind 
something v/hich~with all respect— I think 


you have forgotten. Tlie last tenant on that 
bit of land in Kerry refused to pay his rent. 
Mr. Arthur has taken what they call an 
evicted farm. It's my firm belief,' said tlie 
head clerk, rising and speaking earnestly, 
' tliat the person who lias addressed those 
letters to you knows Mr. Arthur, and knows 
he is in danger — and is trying to save your 
nephew (by means of your influence), at the 
risk of his own life.' 

Sir Giles shook his head. ' I call that a 
far-fetched interpretation, Dennis. If what 
you say is true, why didn't the writer of those 
anonymous letters address himself to Arthur, 
instead of to me ? ' 

'I gave it as my opinion just now, sir, 
that the writer of the letter knew Mr. 

' So you did. And what of that ? ' 
Dennis stood to his guns. 
'Anybody who is acquainted with Mr. 
VOL. I. c 


Arthur,' lie persisted, ' knows that (witli all 
sorts of good qualities) the young gentleman 
is headstrong and rash. If a friend told him 
he was in danger on the farm, that would be 
enough of itself to make him stop where he 
is, and brave it out. Whereas you, sir, are 
known to be cautious and careful, and far- 
seeing and discreet.' He might have added : 
And cowardly and obstinate, and narrow- 
minded and inflated by stupid self-esteem. 
But respect fcr his employer had blindfolded 
the clerk's observation for many a long year 
past. If one man may be born with the heart 
of a lion, another man may be born with the 
mind of a mule. Dennis's master w^as one of 
the other men. 

' Very well put,' Sir Giles answered indul- 
gently. ' Time will show, if such an entirely 
unimportant person as my nephew Arthur 
is likely to be assassinated. That allusion to 
one of the members of my family is a mere 


equivocation, clesignecl to throw me oft' my 
guard. Eank, money, social influence, un- 
swerving principles, mark me out as a public 
character. Go to the police-office, and let the 
best man wlio happens to be oil duty come 
here directly.' 

Good Dennis Howmore approached the 
door very unwillingly. It was opened, from 
the outer side, before he had reached that 
end of the room. One of the bank porters 
announced a visitor. 

' Miss Henley wishes to know, sir, if you 
can see her.' 

Sir Giles looked agreeably surprised. He 
rose with alacrity to receive the lady. 

C '1 



;HEN Iris Henley dies there will, in 
all probability, be friends left who 
Avill remember her and talk of her 
— and there may be strangers present at the 
time (women for the most part), whose curi- 
osity will put questions relating to her per- 
sonal appearance. No replies will reward 
them with trustworthy information. Miss 
Henley's chief claim to admiration lay in a 
remarkable mobility of expression, which re- 
flected every change of feeling pecuhar to the 
nature of a sweet and sensitive woman. For 
this reason, probably, no descriptions of her 
will agree with each other. No existing hke- 
nesses will represent her. The one portrait 
that was painted of Iris is only recognisable 


by partial friends of the artist. In and out of 
London, photographic likenesses were taken 
of lier. The}^ have the honour of resembling 
the portraits of Shakespeare in this respect — 
compared with one another, it is not possible 
to discover that they present the same person. 
As for the evidence offered by the loving 
memory of her friends, it is sure to be contra- 
dictory in the last degree. She had a charm- 
ing face, a commonplace face, an intelligent 
face — a poor complexion, a delicate com- 
plexion, no complexion at all — eyes that were 
expressive of a hot temper, of a bright intel- 
lect, of a firm character, of an affectionate 
disposition, of a truthful nature, of hysterical 
sensibility, of inveterate obstinacy — a figure 
too short ; no, just the right height ; no, 
neither one thing nor the other ; elegant, if 
you like — dress shabby : oh, surely not ; dress 
quiet and simple ; no, something more than 
that ; ostentatiously quiet, theatrically simple, 


worn with the object of lookmg imhke other 
people. In one last word, was this mass of 
contradictions generally popular, in the time 
when it was a living creature ? Yes — among 
the men. No — not invariably. The man of 
all others who ought to have been fondest 
of her was the man who behaved cruelly to 
Iris — her own father. And, when the poor 
creature married (if she did marry), how 
many of you attended the wedding ? Xot 
one of us ! And when she died, how many of 
you were sorry for her ? All of us ! What ? 
no difference of opinion in that one parti- 
cular? On the contrary, perfect concord, 
thank God. 

Let the years roll back, and let Iris speak 
for herself, at the memorable time when she 
was in the prime of her life, and when a 
stormy career was before lier. 



EING Miss Henley's godfather, Sir 
Giles was a privileged person. 
He laid his hairy hands on her 
shoulders, and kissed her on either cheek. 
After that prefatory act of endearment, he 
made his inquiries. What extraordinary 
combination of events had led Iris to leave 
London, and had brought her to visit him in 
his banking-house at Ardoon ? 

' I wanted to get away from home,' she 
answered ; ' and having nobody to go to but 
my godfather, I thought I should like to see 

' Alone ! ' cried Sir Giles. 

'No — with my maid to keep me com- 


' Only your maid, Iris ? Surely you have 
acquaintances among young ladies like your- 

'Acquaintances — yes. No friends.' 

*Does your father approve of what you 
have done ? ' 

' Will you grant me a favour, godpapa ? ' 

' Yes — if I can.' 

' Don't insist on my answering your last 

The faint colour that had risen in her 
face, when she entered the room, left it. At 
the same time, the expression of her mouth 
altered. The Hps closed firmly ; revealing 
that strongest of all resolutions which is 
founded on a keen sense of wrong. Slie 
looked older than her age : what she might 
be ten years hence, she was now. Sir Giles 
understood her. He got up, and took a turn 
in the room. An old habit, of which he had 
cured himself with infinite difficulty when he 


was made a Knight, showed itself again. He 
put his hands in his pockets. 

' You and your father have had another 
quarrel,' he said, stopping opposite Iris. 

*I don't deny it,' she replied. 

' Who is to blame ? ' 

She smiled bitterly. ' The woman is 
always to blame.' 

' Did your father tell you that ? ' 

'My father reminded me that I was 
twenty-one years old, last birthday — and told 
me that I could do as I liked. I understood 
him, and I left the house.' 

' You will go back again, I suppose ? ' 

' I don't know.' 

Sir Giles began pacing the room once 
more. His rugged face, telling its story of 
disaster and struggle in early life, showed 
signs of disappointment and distress. 

' Hugh promised to write to me,' he said, 
' and he has not written. I know what that 


means ; I know wliat you have done to offend 
your father. My nephew has asked you to 
marry hhn for the second thne. And for the 
second time you have refused.' 

Her face softened ; its better and younger 
aspect revived. ' Yes,' she said, sadly and 
submissively ; ' I have refused him again.' 

Sir Giles lost his temper. ' What the devil 
is your objection to Hugh .^ ' he burst out. 

'My father said the same thing to me,' she 
replied, ' almost in the same words. I made 
him angry when I tried to give my reason. 
I don't want to make you angry, too.' 

He took no notice of this. ' Isn't Hugh a 
good fellow ? ' he went on. ' Isn't he affec- 
tionate ? and kindhearted ? and honourable ? 
— aye, and a handsome man too, if you come 
to that.' 

' Hugh is all that you say. I like him ; I 
admire him ; I owe to his kindness some of 
the liappiest days of my sad life, and I am 


grateful — oli, with all my heart, I am grateful 
to Hugh ! ' 

If that's true, Iris- 

' Every word of it is true.' 

' I say, if that's true — there's no excuse for 
3'ou. I hate perversity in a young woman ! 
Why don't you marry him ? ' 

' Try to feel for me,' she said gently ; ' I 
can't love him.' 

Her tone said more to the banker than 
her words liad expressed. The secret sorrow 
of her life, which was known to her father, 
was known also to Sir Giles. 

' Xow we have come to it at last ! ' he said. 
' You can't love my nephew Hugh. And you 
won't tell me the reason wh}^ because your 
sweet temper shrinks from making me angry. 
Shall I mention the reason for you, my 
dear ? I can do it in two words — Lord 

She made no reply ; she showed no sign of 


feeling what he had just said. Her head sank 
a little ; her hands clasped themselves on her 
lap ; the obstinate resignation which can sub- 
mit to anything hardened her face, stiffened 
her figure — and that was all. 

The banker was determined not to spare 

* It's easy to see,' he resumed, ' that you 
have not got over your infatuation for that 
vagabond yet. Go where he may, into tlie 
vilest places and among the lowest people, 
he carries your heart along with him. I 
wonder you are not ashamed of such an 
attachment as that.' 

He had stung her at last. She roused 
herself, and answered him. 

' Harry has led a wild life,' she said ; ' he 
has committed serious faults, and he may live 
to do worse than he lias done yet. To what 
degradation, bad company, and a bad bring- 
ing up may yet lead him, I leave his enemies 


to foresee. But I tell you this, he has redeem- 
ing qualities which you, and people like you, 
are not good Christians enough to discover. 
He has friends who can still appreciate him — 
your nephew, Arthur Mountjoy, is one of them. 
Oh, I know it by Arthur's letters to me ! 
Blame Lord Harry as you may, I tell you he 
has the capacity for repentance in him, and one 
day — when it is too late, I dare say — he will 
show it. I can never be his wife. We are 
parted, never in all likelihood to meet again. 
Well ! he is the only man whom I have ever 
loved ; and he is the only man whom I ever 
shall love. If 3^ou think this state of mind 
proves that I am as bad as he is, I won't contra- 
dict you. Do we any of us know how bad we 
are ? — Have you heard of Harry lately ? ' 

The sudden transition, from an earnest 
and devoted defence of the man, to an easy 
and famihar inquiry about him, startled Sir 


For the moment lie had nothing to say ; Iris 
had made him think. She had shown a capa- 
city for mastering her strongest feehngs, at the 
moment when they threatened to overcome her, 
which is very rarely found in a young woman. 
How to manage her was a problem for patient 
resolution to solve. The banker's obstinacy, 
rather than his conviction, had encouraged 
him to hold to the hope of Hugh's marriage, 
even after his nephew had been refused for 
the second time. His headstrong goddaughter 
had come to visit him of her own accord. 
She had not forgotten the days of her child- 
hood, when he had some influence over her — 
when she had found him kinder to her than 
her father had ever been. Sir Giles saw that 
he had taken the wrong tone with Iris. His 
anger had not alarmed her ; liis opinion had 
not influenced her. In Hugh's interests he 
determined to try what consideration and 



indulgence would do towards cultivating the 
growtli of lier regard for him. Finding that 
she had left her maid and her lu2f<]^a(?e at tlie 

DO c 

hotel, he hospitably insisted on their removal 
to his own house. 

' While you are in Ardoon, Iris, you are 
my guest,' he said. 

She pleased him by readily accepting the 
invitation — and then annoyed him by asking 
again if he had heard anything of Lord 

He answered shortly and sliarply : ' I have 
heard nothing. What is your last news of 
him ? ' 

' News,' she said, ' which I sincerely hope 
is not true. An Irish paper has been sent to 
me, which reports that he has joined the 
secret society — nothing better than a society 
of assassins, I am afraid — which is known by 
the name of the Invincibles.' 


As she mentioned that formidable brother- 
liood, Dennis Howmore returned from the 
poHce-office. He announced that a Sergeant 
was then waiting to receive instructions from 
Sir Giles. 




EIS rose to go. Her godfather 
courteously stopped her. 

' Wait here,' he said, ' until I 
have spoken to the Sergeant, and I will escort 
you to my house. My clerk will do what is 
necessary at the hotel. You don't look quite 
satisfied. Is the arrangement that I have 
proposed not agreeable to j^ou .^ ' 

Iris assured him that she gratefully ac- 
ceded to the arrangement. At the same time, 
she confessed to having been a little startled 
on discovering that he was in consultation with 
the police. 'I remember that we are in 
Ireland,' she explained, ' and I am foolish 
enough to fear that you may be in some 
danger. May I hope that it is only a trifle ? ' 
VOL. I. p 


Only a trifle ! Among otlier deficient 
sensibilities in the strange nature of Iris, Sir 
Giles had observed an imperfect appreciation 
of the dignity of his social position. Here was 
a new proof of it ! The temptation to inspire 
sentiments of alarm— not unmingled with 
admiration — in the mind of his insensible 
god-danghter, by exhibiting himself as a 
public character threatened by a conspi- 
racy, was more than the banker's vanity 
could resist. Before he left the room, he in- 
structed Dennis to tell Miss Henley what had 
happened, and to let her judge for herself 
whether he had been needlessly alarmed 
by what she was pleased to call ' a mere 

Dennis Howmore must have been more 
than mortal, if he could have related his nar- 
rative of events without being influenced by 
his own point of view. On the first occasion 
when he mentioned Arthur Mountjoy's name 


Iris showed a sudden interest in liis strange 
story which took him by surprise. 

' You know Mr. Artliur ? ' he said. 

' Know him ! ' Iris repeated. ' He was 
my playfellow when we were both children. 
He is as dear to me as if he was my brother. 
Tell me at once — is he really in danger ? ' 

Dennis honestly repeated what he had 
already said, on that subject, to his master. 
]\Iiss Henley, entirely agreeing with him, ^v^as 
eager to warn Arthur of his position. There 
was no telegraphic communication with the vil- 
lage which was near his farm. She could only 
write to him, and she did write to him, by that 
day's post — having reasons of her own for 
anxiety, which forbade her to show her letter 
to Dennis. Well aware of the devoted friend- 
ship which united Lord Harry and Arthur 
Mountjoy — and bearing in mind tlie news- 
paper report of the Irish lord's rash association 
with the Invincibles — her fears now identified 

D 2 


the noble vagabond as tlie writer of the anony- 
mous letters, which had so seriously excited 
her godfather's doubts of his own safety. 

When Sir Giles returned and took her with 
him to liis house, he spoke of his consultation 
with the Sergeant in terms which increased her 
dread of what might happen in the future. 
She was a dull and silent guest, during the 
interval that elapsed before it would be pos- 
sible to receive Arthur's reply. The day 
arrived — and the post brought no relief to her 
anxieties. The next day passed without a 
letter. On the morning of the fourth day. 
Sir Giles rose later than usual. His correspond- 
ence was sent to him from the office, at break- 
fast-time. After opening one of the letters, he 
despatched a messenger in hot haste to the 

' Look at that,' he said, handing tlie letter 
to Iris. ' Does the assassin take me for a 


She read the hues that follow : 

' Unforeseen events force me, Sir Giles, 
to run a serious risk. I must speak to you, 
and it must not be by daylight. My one hope 
of safety is in darkness. Meet me at the first 
milestone, on the road to Garvan, when the 
moon sets at ten o'clock to-night. No need 
to mention your name. The password is : 

' Do you mean to go .^ ' Iris asked. 

' Do I mean to ])e murdered ! ' Sir Giles 
broke out. * My dear child, do pray try to 
think before you speak. The Sergeant will 
represent me, of course.' 

' And take the man prisoner ? ' Iris added. 

' Certainly ! ' 

With that startling reply, the banker hur- 
ried away to receive tlie police in another 
room. Iris dropped into the nearest chair. 
The turn that the affair had now taken filled 
her with unutterable dismay. 


Sir Giles came back, after no very long 
absence, composed and smiling. Tlie course 
of proceeding had been settled to his complete 

Dressed in private clothes, tlie Sergeant 
was to go to the milestone at the appointed 
time, representing the banker in the darkness, 
and giving the password. He was to be 
followed by two of his men who would wait 
in concealment, witliin hearing of liis whistle, 
if their services were required. ' I want to 
see the ruffian wlien he is safely handcufFed,' 
Sir Giles explained ; ' and I have arranged to 
wait for the police, to-night, at my office.' 

There was but one desperate way that Iris 
could now discern of saving the man who had 
confided in her godfather's honour, and whose 
trust had already been betrayed. Never had 
she loved the outlawed Irish lord — the man 
whom she was forbidden, and rightly for- 
bidden, to marry — as she loved him at that 


moment. Let the risk be what it miglit, this 
resolute woman had determined that the 
Sergeant should not be the only person who 
arrived at the milestone, and gave the pass- 
word. There was one devoted friend to Lord 
Harry, whom she could always trust — and 
that friend was herself. 

Sir Giles withdrew, to look after his busi- 
ness at the bank. She waited until the clock 
liad struck the servants' dinner hour, and 
then ascended tlie stairs to her godfather's 
dressing-room. Opening his wardrobe, she 
discovered in one part of it a large Spanish 
cloak, and, in another part, a liigh-crowned 
felt hat which lie wore on his country ex- 
cursions. Li the dark, here was disguise 
enough for her purpose. 

As she left the dressing-room, a measure 
of precaution occurred to her, wdiicli she put 
in action at once. Telling her maid that she 
had some purchases to make in the town, she 


went out, and asked her way to Garvan of the 
first respectable stranger whom she met m the 
street. Her object was to walk as far as the 
first milestone, in daylight, so as to be sure of 
finding it again by night. She had made her- 
self familiar with the different objects on the 
road, when she returned to tlie banker's 

As the time for the arrest drew nearer, Sir 
Giles became too restless to wait patiently at 
home. He went away to the police-office, 
eager to hear if any new counter-conspiracy 
had occurred to the authorities. 

It was dark soon after eight o'clock, at 
that time of the year. At nine the servants 
assembled at the supper-table. They were 
all downstairs together, talking, and waiting 
for their meal. 

Feeling the necessity of arriving at the 
place of meeting in time to keep out of the 
Serjeant's wav, Iris assumed her diss^uise as 


the clock struck nine. She left the house 
without a living creature to notice her, in- 
doors or out. Clouds were gathering over 
tlie sky. The waning moon was only to be 
seen at intervals, as she set forth on her Avay 
to the milestone. 




HE wind rose a 
little, and the 
rifts in the clouds 
began to grow 
broader as Iris 
gained the high 

For awhile 
the ghnnner 
of the misty 
moonliglit lit 
the way before her. As well as she could 
guess, she had passed over more than lialf 
of the distance between the town and the 
milestone before the sky darkened ao-ain. Ob- 


jects by the wayside grew sliaclowy and 
dim. A few drops of rain began to fall. 
The milestone, as she knew — thanks to the 
discovery of it made by daylight — was on 
the right-hand side of the road. But the dull 
grey colour of tlie stone was not easy to see 
in the dark. 

A doubt troubled her whether she might 
not have passed the milestone. She stopped 
and looked at the sky. 

The threatening of rain had passed away ; 
signs showed themselves which seemed to 
promise another break in the clouds. She 
waited. Low and faint, the sinkino- moonliizlit 
looked its last at the dull earth. In front of 
her there was nothing to be seen but the 
road. She looked back — and discovered the 

A rough stone wall protected the land on 
either side of the road. Nearly behind the 
milestone there was a gap in this fence, par- 


tially closed by a hurdle. A half-ruined cul- 
vert, arching a ditch that had run dry, formed 
a bridge leading from the road to the field. 
Had the field been already chosen as a place 
of concealment by the police ? Nothing was 
to be seen but a footpath, and the dusky line 
of a plantation beyond it. As she made these 
discoveries, the rain began to fall again ; the 
clouds gathered once more ; the moonlight 

At the same moment an obstacle presented 
itself to her mind, which Iris had thus far 
failed to foresee. 

Lord Harry might approach the milestone 
by three different ways : tliat is to say — by 
the road from tlie town, or by the road from 
the open country, or by way of the field and 
the culvert. How could she so place herself 
as to be sure of warnins^ him, before he fell 
into the liands of tlie police ? To watch the 
three means of approach in the obscurity of 


the night, and at one and the same time, was 

A man in this position, guided by reason, 
would in all probability have wasted precious 
time in trying to arrive at the rig] it decision. 
A woman, aided b}' love, conquered tlie diffi- 
culty that confronted her in a moment. 

Iris decided on returnino- to the milestone, 
and on waiting there to be discovered and 
taken prisoner by the police. Suj)posing 
Lord Harry to be punctual to his appoint- 
ment, he would hear voices and movements, 
as a necessary consequence of the arrest, in 
time to make his escape. Supposing him on 
the other hand to be late, the police would be 
on the way back to the town with their 
prisoner : he would find no one at the mile- 
stone, and would leave it again in safety. 

She was on the point of turning, to get 
back to the road, when something on the 
dark surface of the field, which looked hke a 


darker shadow, became dimly visible. In an- 
other moment, it seemed to be a shadow that 
moved. She ran towards it. It looked like 
a man as she drew nearer. The man stopped. 

' The password,' he said, in tones cautiously 

' Fidelity,' she answered in a whisper. 

It was too dark for a recognition of his 
features ; but Iris knew him by his tall 
stature — knew him by the accent in which he 
had asked for the password. Erroneously 
judging of her, on his side, as a man, he drew 
back again. Sir Giles Mountjoy was above 
the middle height ; the stranger, in a cloak, 
who had whispered to him, was below it. 
' You are not the person I expected to meet,' 
he said. ^ Who are you ? ' 

Her faithful heart was longing to tell him 
the truth. The temptation to reveal herself 
and to make the sweet confession of her 
happiness at having saved him, would have 


overpowered lier discretion, but for a sound 
that was audible on the road behind them. 
In the deep silence of tlie time and place, mis- 
take was impossible. It was the sound of 

There was just time to whisper to him': 
' Sir Giles has betrayed you. Save your- 

' Thank you, whoever you are ! ' 

With that reply, he suddenly and swiftly 
disappeared. Iris remembered the culvert, 
and turned towards it. There was a hidinix- 
place under the arch, if she could only get 
down into the dry ditch in time. Slie was feel- 
ing her Avay to the slope of it with her feet, 
when a heavy hand seized her by the 
arm ; and a resolute voice said, ' You are 
my prisoner.' 

She was led back into the road. The 
man who had got her blew a whistle. Two 
other men joined him. 


' Show a ligiit,' lie said ; ' and let's see 
who the fellow is.' 

The shade was slipped aside from a 
lantern : the light fell full on the prisoner's 
face. Amazement petrified the two attendant 
policemen. The pious Catholic Sergeant burst 
into speech : ' Holy Mary ! it's a woman ! ' 

Did the secret societies of Ireland enrol 
women? Was this a modern Judith, express- 
infT herself by anonymous letters, and bent on 
assassinating a financial Holofernes who kept 
a bank ? What account had she to give of 
herself? How came she to be alone in 
a desolate field on a rainy night ? Instead 
of answering these questions, the inscrutable 
stranger preferred a bold and brief request. 
« Take me to Sir Giles,' was all she said to the 

The Sergeant had the handcuffs ready. 
After looking at the prisoner's delicate wrists 
by the lantern -light, he put his fetters b^ck 


in his pocket. ' A lady — and no doubt about 
it,' he said to one of his assistants. 

The two men waited, with a mischievous 
interest in seeing what he would do next. 
The list of their pious officer's virtues in- 
cluded a constitutional partiality for women, 
wliicli exhibited the mercifid side of justice 
when a criminal wore a petticoat. ' We will 
take you to Sir Giles, miss,' he said — and 
offered his arm, instead of offering his hand- 
cuffs. Iris understood him, and took liis 

Slie was silent— unaccountably silent as 
tlie men thought — on the way to the town. 
They lieard her sigh ; and, once, the sigh 
sounded more like a sob ; little did they sus- 
pect what was in that silent woman's mind at 
the time. 

The one object v/hich had absorbed the 
attention of Iris had been the savino; of Lord 
Harry. This accomplished, the free exercise 

VOL. I. E 


of her memory had now reminded her of 
Arthur Moimtjoy. 

It was hnpossible to doubt that the object 
of the proposed meeting at the milestone had 
been to take measures for the preservation 
of the young man's hfe. A coward is always 
more or less cruel. The proceedings (equally 
treacherous and merciless) by which Sir Giles 
had provided for his own safety, had delayed 
— perhaps actually prevented — the execution 
of Lord Harry's humane design. It was 
possible, horribly possible, tliat a prompt 
employment of time might have been neces- 
sary to the rescue of Arthur from impending 
death by murder. In the agitation that over- 
powered her, Iris actually hurried the police 
on their return to the town. 

Sir Giles had arranged to wait for news in 
his private room at the office — and there he 
was, with Dennis Howmore in attendance to 
receive visitors. 


The Sergeant went into the Ijanker's room 
alone, to make his report. He left the door 
ajar ; Iris conld hear what passed. 

' Have yon got 3'onr prisoner ? ' Sir Giles 

' Yes, your honour.' 

' Is the wretch securely handcuffed ? ' 

' I beg your pardon, sir, it isn't a man.' 

' Nonsense, Sergeant ; it can't l)e a boy. ' 

The Sergeant confessed that it was not a 
boy. ' It's a woman,' he said. 

' What ! ! ! ' 

' A woman,' the patient officer repeated — 
' and a young one. She asked for You.' 

' Bring her in.' 

Iris was not the sort of person wlio waits 
to be brought in. She walked in, of her own 




'OOD HEAVENS ! ' cried Sir Giles. 
' Iris ! With my cloak on ! ! 
With my hat in her hand ! ! ! 
Sergeant, there has been some dreadfid mis- 
take. This is my goddaughter — Miss Henley.' 

'We found her at the milestone, your 
honour. The young lady, and nobody else.' 

Sir Giles appealed helplessly to his god- 
daughter. ' What does this mean ? ' Instead 
of answering, she looked at the Sergeant. 
The Sergeant, conscious of responsibility, 
stood his ground and looked at Sir Giles. His 
face confessed that the Irish sense of humour 
was tickled ; but he showed no intention of 
leaving the room. Sir Giles saw tluit Iris 
would enter into no explanation in the man's 


presence. ' You needn't wait any longer,' he 

' What am I to do, if you please, with the 
prisoner ? ' the Sergeant inquired. 

Sir Giles waived that unnecessary question 
away with his hand. He was trebly respon- 
sible — as knight, banker, and magistrate into 
tlie bargain. ' I will be answerable,' he 
replied, ' for producing Miss Henley, if called 
upon. Good-night.' 

The Sergeant's sense of duty was satisfied. 
He made the military salute. His gallantry 
added homage to the young lady under the 
form of a bow. Then, and then only, he 
walked with dignity out of the room. 

' Now,' Sir Giles resumed, ' I presume I 
may expect to receive an explanation. What 
does this impropriety mean ? What were you 
doing at the milestone ? ' 

' I was saving the person who made tlie 
appointment with you,' Iris said ; ' tlie poor 


fellow wlio had no ill-will towards you — who 
had risked everything to save your nephew's 
life. Oh, sir, you committed a terrible 
mistake when you refused to trust that 
man ! ' 

Sir Giles had anticipated the appearance 
of fear, and the reality of humble apologies. 
She had answered him indignantly, with a 
heightened colour, and with tears in her eyes. 
His sense of his own social importance was 
wounded to the quick. ' Who is the man you 
are speaking of ? ' he asked loftily. ' And 
what is your excuse for having gone to the 
milestone to save him — hidden under my 
cloak, disguised in my hat ? ' 

' Don't waste precious time in asking ques- 
tions ! ' was the desperate reply. ' Undo the 
harm that you have done already. Your 
help — oh, I mean what I say ! — may yet 
preserve Arthur's life. Go to the farm, and 
save him.' 


Sir Giles's anger assumed a new form ; it 
indulged in an elaborate mockery of respect. 
He took ]iis watcli from his pocket, and con- 
sulted it satirically. ' Must I make an excuse ? ' 
he asked, with a clumsy assumption of 

' No ! you must go.' 

' Permit me to inform you, Miss Henley, 
that the last train started more than two 
hours since.' 

' What does that matter ? You are rich 
enough to hire a train.' 

Sir Giles, the actor, could endure it no 
longer ; he dropped the mask, and revealed 
Sir Giles, the man. His clerk was summoned 
by a peremptory ring of the bell. ' Attend 
Miss Henley to the house,' he said. ' You 
may come to your senses after a night's rest,' 
he continued, turning sternly to Iris. ' I will 
receive your excuses in the morning.' 

In the mornini?, the breakfast was ready 


as usual at nine o'clock. Sir Giles found 
himself alone at the table. 

He sent an order to one of the women- 
servants to knock at Miss Henley's door. 
There was a long delay. The housekeeper 
presented herself in a state of alarm ; she had 
gone upstairs to make the necessary investi- 
gation in her own person. Miss Henley was 
not in her room ; tlie maid was not in her 
room ; the beds had been slept in ; the 
heavy luggage was labelled : 'To be called 
for from the hotel.' And there was an end 
of the evidence which the absent Iris had left 
behind her. 

Inquiries were made at the hotel. The 
young lady had called there, with her maid, 
early on that morning. They had their travel- 
ling-bags with them ; and Miss Henley had left 
directions that the luggage was to be placed 
under care of the landlord until hei' return. 


To what destination she had betaken herself 
nobody knew. 

Sir Giles was too angry to remember what 
she had said to him on the previous night, or 
he might have guessed at the motive which 
had led to her departure. ' Her father has 
done with her already,' he said ; ' and I have 
done with her now.' The servants received 
orders not to admit Miss Henley, if her 
audacity contemplated a return to her god- 
father's house. 



!N the afternoon of the same day, Iris 
arrived at the village situated in 
the near neighbourhood of Arthur 
Mountjoy's farm. 

The infection of political excitement 
(otherwise, the hatred of England) had spread 
even to this remote place. On the steps of 
his little chapel, the priest, a peasant himself, 
was haranguing his brethren of the soil. An 
Irishman Avho paid his landlord was a traitor 
to his country ; an Irishman who asserted his 
free birthright in the land that he walked 
on was an enlightened patriot. Such was 
the new law which the reverend gentleman 
expounded to his attentive audience. If his 
brethren there would like him to tell them 


how they might apply the law, this exem- 
plary Christian would point to the faithless 
Irishman, Arthur Mountjoy. ' Buy not of 
him ; sell not to him ; avoid him if he ap- 
proaches you ; starve him out of the place. I 
might say more, boys — you know what I mean.' 
To hear the latter part of this effort of 
oratory, without uttering a word of protest, 
was a trial of endurance under which Iris 
trembled. The secondary effect of the priest's 
address was to root the conviction of Arthur's 
danger with tenfold tenacity in her mind. 
After what she had just heard, even the 
slightest delay in securing his safety might be 
productive of deplorable results. She aston- 
ished a barefooted boy, on the outskirts of 
the crowd, by a gift of sixpence, and asked 
her way to the farm. The little Irishman ran 
on before her, eager to show the generous 
lady how useful he could be. In less than 
half an hour, Iris and her maid were at the 


door of the farm-house. No such civihsed 
inventions appeared as a knocker or a belL 
The boy used his knuckles instead — and ran 
away when he heard the lock of the door 
turned on the inner side. He was afraid to 
be seen speaking to any living creature wlio 
inhabited tlie ' evicted farm.' 

A decent old woman appeared, and in- 
quired suspiciously ' what the ladies wanted.' 
The accent in which she spoke was unmis- 
takably English. When Iris asked for Mr. 
Arthur Mountjoy the reply was: 'Not at 
home.' The housekeeper inhospitably at- 
tempted to close the door. ' Wait one 
moment,' Iris said. 'Years have changed 
you ; but there is something in your face 
which is not quite strange to me. Are you 
Mrs. Lewson ? ' 

The woman admitted that this was lier 
name. ' But how is it that you are a stranger 
to me ? ' she asked distrustfully. 




Mrs. Lczusoti s /ace brightc7icd in an instant ; she thrczv the door wide open zvith a glad 
cry of recognition. 


'If you have been long in Mr. Mountjoy's 
service,' Iris replied, ' you rnay perliaps liave 
heard him speak of Miss Henley ? ' 

Mrs. Lewson's face brightened in an in- 
stant ; she threw the door wide open witli a 
glad cry of recognition. 

' Come in, miss, come in ! Who would 
have thought of seeing you in this horrible 
place ? Yes ; I was the nurse who looked 
after you all three — when you and Mr. 
Arthur and Mr. Hugh were playfellows to- 
gether.' Her eyes rested longingly on her 
favourite of bygone days. The sensitive sym- 
pathies of Iris interpreted that look. She 
prettily touched her cheek, inviting the nurse 
to kiss her. At this act of kindness the poor 
old woman broke down : she apologised 
quaintly for her tears : ' Think, miss, how 1 
must remember that happy time — wlien you 
have not forgotten it.' 

foiiown into the parlour, the first object 


which the visitor noticed was the letter that 
she had written to Arthur lying unopened on 
the table. 

' Then he is really out of the house ? ' she 
said, with a feehng of relief. 

He had been away from the farm for 
a week or more. Had he received a warning 
from some other quarter? and had he wisely 
sought refuge in flight ? The amazement in 
the housekeeper's face, when she heard these 
questions, pleaded for a word of explanation. 
Iris acknowledged without reserve the mo- 
tives which had suggested her journey, and 
asked eagerly if she had been mistaken in 
assuming that Arthur was in danger of assas- 

Mrs. Lewson shook her head. Beyond all 
doubt tlie young master was in danger. But 
Miss Iris ought to have known his nature 
better than to suppose tliat he would beat 
a retreat, if all the land-leacruers in Ireland 


threatened him together. No ! It was his 
bold way to hiiigli at danger. He had left 
his farm to visit a friend in the next county ; 
and it was shrewdly guessed that a young 
lady who was staying in the house was the 
attraction wliich had kej^t him so long away. 
' Anyliow, he means to come back to-mor- 
row,' Mrs. Lewson said. ' I wish he would 
think better of it, and make his escape to 
England while he has the chance. If the 
savages in these parts must slioot somebody, 
I'm here — an old woman that can't last much 
longer. Let tliem shoot me.' 

Iris asked if Arthur's safet}^ was assured 
in the next county, and in the house of his 

' I can't saj^ miss ; I have never been to 
the house. He is in danger if he persists in 
coming back to tlie farm. There are chances 
of shooting him all along his road liome. Oli, 
yes ; he knows it, poor dear, as well as I do. 


But, there ! — men. like hiiu are sucli perverse 
creatures. He takes his rides just as usual. 
No ; he won't hsten to an old woman like 
me ; and as for friends to advise him, tlie 
only one of them that has darkened our 
doors is a scamp who had better liave kept 
away. You may have heard tell of him. 
The old earl, his wicked father, used to be 
called by a bad name. And the wild young 
lord is his father's true son.' 

' Not Lord Harry ? ' Iris exclaimed. 

The outbreak of agitation in her tone and 
manner was silently noticed by her maid. 
The housekeeper did not attempt to conceal 
the impression that had been produced upon 
her. ' I hope you don't know such a vaga- 
bond as thatP' she said very seriously. 
' Perhaps you are tliinking of his brother — 
the eldest son-~a respectable man, as I liave 
been told ? ' 

Miss Henley passed over these questions 


without notice. Urged by the interest in her 
lover, whicli was now more than ever an 
interest beyond her control, she said : ' Is 
Lord Harry in danger, on account of his 
friend ? ' 

' He has nothing to fear from the 
wretches who infest our part of the country,' 
Mrs. Lewson replied. 'Eejoort says he's one 
of themselves. The police — there's what his 
young lordship has to be afraid of, if all's 
true that is said about him. Anyhow, when 
lie paid his visit to my master he came 
secretly like a thief in the night. And I 
heard Mr. Artliur, while they were together 
here in the parlour, loud in blaming him for 
something that he had done. No more. Miss, 
of Lord Harry ! I have something particular 
to say to you. Suppose I promise to make 
you comfortable — will you please wait here 
till to-morrow, and see Mr. Arthur and speak 

VOL. J. F 


to him ? If there's a person Hving who can 
persuade him to take better care of himself, I 
do beheve it will be you.' 

Iris readily consented to wait for Arthur 
Mountjoy's return. Left together, while Mrs. 
Lewson was attending to her domestic duties, 
the mistress noticed an appearance of pre- 
occupation in the maid's face. 

'Are you beginning to wish, Ehoda,' she 
said, ' that I had not brought you to this 
strange place, among these wild people ? ' 

The maid was a quiet amiable girl, evi- 
dently in delicate health. She smiled faintly. 
' I was thinking. Miss, of another nobleman 
besides the one Mrs. Lewson mentioned just 
now, who seems to liave led a reckless life. 
It was printed in a newspaper that I read 
before we left London.' 

' Was his name mentioned ? ' Iris asked. 

' No, Miss ; I suppose they were afraid of 
giving offence. He tried so many strange 


ways of getting a living — it was almost like 
reading a story-book.' 

The suppression of the name suggested a 
suspicion from which Iris recoiled. Was it 
possible that her maid could be ignorantly 
alluding to Lord Harry ? 

'Do you remember this hero's adven- 
tures ? ' she said. 

' I can try, Miss, if you wish to hear about 

The newspaper narrative appeared to 
have produced a vivid impression on Ehoda's 
mind. Making; allowance for natural hesita- 
tions and mistakes, and difficulties in expres- 
sing herself correctly, she repeated with a 
singularly clear recollection the substance of 
what she had read. 




I HE principal characters in the story 
were an old Irish nobleman, who 
was called tlie Earl, and the 
youngest of his two sons, mysteriously distin- 
guished as ' the wild lord.' 

It was said of the Earl that he had not 
been a good father ; he had cruelly neglected 
both his sons. The younger one, badly 
treated at school, and left to himself in the 
holidays, began his adventurous career by 
running away. lie got employment (under 
an assumed name) as a ship's boy. At the 
outset, he did well ; learning his work, and 
being liked by the Captain and the crew. 
But the chief unite was a brutal man, and the 


youDg runaway's quick temper resented the 
disgraceful infliction of blows. He made up 
liis mind to try his luck on shore, and at- 
tached himself to a company of strolling 
players. Being a handsome lad, with a good 
figure and a fine clear voice, he did very well 
for a while on the country stage. Hard times 
came ; salaries were reduced ; the adventurer 
wearied of the society of actors and actresses. 
His next change of life presented him in North 
Britain as a journalist, employed on a Scotch 
newspaper. An unfortunate love-affair was 
the means of depriving him of this new occu- 
pation. He was recognised, soon afterwards, 
serving as assistant-steward in one of the 
passenger steamers voyaging between Liver- 
pool and New York. Arrived in this last city, 
he obtained notoriety, of no very respectable 
kind, as a ' medium ' claiming powers of super- 
natural communication with the world of 
spirits. When the imposture was idtimately 


discovered, he had gamed money by his un- 
worthy appeal to the meanly prosaic super- 
stition of modern times. A long interval had 
then elapsed, and nothing had been heard of 
him, when a starving man was discovered by 
a traveller lost on a Western prairie. The ill- 
fated Irish lord had associated himself with 
an Indian tribe — had committed some offence 
against their laws — and had been deliberately 
deserted and left to die. On his recovery, he 
wrote to his elder brother (who had inherited 
the title and estates on the death of the old 
Earl) to say that he was ashamed of the life that 
he had led, and eager to make amendment by 
accepting any honest employment that could 
be offered to him. The traveller who had 
saved his life, and whose opinion was to be 
trusted, declared that the letter represented 
a sincerely penitent state of mind. There were 
good qualities in the vagabond, which only 
wanted a little merciful encouragement to 


assert themselves. The reply that he received 
from England came from the lawyers employed 
by the new Earl. They had arranged with 
their agents in Xew York to pay to the yonnger 
brother a legacy of a thousand pounds, wliich 
represented all that had been left to ]um by 
his father's will. If he wrote again, his letters 
Avould not be answered ; his brother had done 
with him. Treated in this inhuman manner, 
the wild lord became once more worthy of his 
name. He tried a new hfe as a betting man at 
races and trotting-matches. Fortune favoured 
him at the outset, and he considerably increased 
his legacy. Witli the customary infatuation 
of men who gain money by risking the loss 
of it, he presumed on his good luck. One 
pecuniary disaster followed another, and left 
him literally penniless. He was found again, 
in England ; exhibiting an open boat, in which 
he and a companion had made one of those 
foolhardy voyages across tlie Atlantic, 


which have now happily ceased to interest the 
pubhc. To a fiicncl who remonstrated with 
him, he answered that he had reckoned on being 
lost at sea, and on so committing a suicide 
worthy of the desperate life that he had led. 
The last accounts of him, after this, were too 
vague and too contradictory to be depended 
on. At one time it was reported that he had 
returned to the United States. Not long after- 
wards, unaccountable paragraphs appeared 
in newspapers, declaring, at one and the same 
time, that he was living among bad company 
in Paris, and that he was hiding disreputably 
in an ill-famed quarter of the city of Dublin, 
called ' The Liberties.' In any case, there was 
good reason to fear that Irish-American 
desperadoes had entangled the wild lord in the 
network of political conspiracy. 

The maid noticed a change in the mistress 
which surprised her, when she had reached 


the end of the newspaper story. Of Miss 
Henley's customary good spirits not a trace 
remained. ' Few people, Ehoda, remember 
wliat they read as well as you do.' She said 
it kindly and sadly — and she said no more. 

There was a reason for this. 

Xow at one time, and now at another, Iris 
liad heard of Lord Harry's faults and faiUngs 
in fragments of family history. The complete 
record of his degraded life, presented in an 
uninterrupted succession of events, had now 
forced itself on her attention for the first time. 
It naturally shocked her. She felt, as she had 
never felt before, how entirely right her father 
had been in insisting on her resistance to an 
attachment which was unworthy of her. So 
far, but no farther, her conscience yielded 
to its own conviction of what was just. But 
the one unassailable vital force in this world 
is the force of love. It may submit to the 
hard necessities of life ; it may acknowledge 


the imperative claims of duty ; it Diay be silent 
under reproach, and submissive to privation — 
but, suffer what it may, it is the master-passion 
still, subject to no artificial influences, owning 
no supremacy but the law of its own being. 
Iris was above the reach of self-reproach, 
when her memory recalled the daring action 
which had saved Lord Harry at the milestone. 
Her better sense acknowledged Hugli Mount- 
joy's superiority over the otlier man — but her 
heart, her perverse heart, remained true to its 
first choice in spite of her. She made an im- 
patient excuse, and went out alone, to recover 
her composure in the farm-house garden. 

The hours of the evening passed slowly. 

There was a pack of cards in the house ; 
the women tried to amuse themselves, and 
failed. Anxiety about Arthur preyed on 
the spirits of Miss Henley and Mrs. Lewson. 
Even the maid, who had only seen him during 
his last visit to London, said she wished to- 


morrow liad come and gone. Ilis sweet 
temper, his handsome face, his Hvely talk had 
made Arthur a favourite everywhere. Mrs. 
Lewson had left her comfortable English home 
to be his housekeeper, when he tried his rash 
experiment of farming in Ireland. And, more 
wonderful still, even wearisome Sir Giles 
became an agreeable person in his nephew's 

Iris set the example of retiring at an early 
hour to her room. 

There was something terrible in the pas- 
toral silence of the place. It associated itself 
mysteriously with her fears for Arthur ; it 
suggested armed treachery on tiptoe, taking 
its murderous stand in hidincf ; the whistlinfjr 
passage of bullets through the air; tlie pierc- 
ing cry of a man mortally wounded ; and that 

man perhaps ? Iris shrank from her own 

horrid thought. A momentary faintness 
overcame her ; she opened the window. As 


slie put her head out to breathe the cool night 
air, a man on horseback rode up to the house. 
Was it Arthur ? Xo : the hght-coloured 
groom's hvery that he wore was just visible. 

Before he could dismount to knock at the 
door, a tall man walked up to him out of the 

'Is that Miles .^ ' tlie tall man asked. 

The groom knew the voice. Iris was even 
better acquainted with it. She, too, recog- 
nised Lord Harrv. v 



HERE was 
the Irish 
lord — at 
the very 
time when 
Iris was 
most patiently 
resigned never 
to see him 
more, never to 
tliink of him as 
lier husband again 
— reminding her 
of the first days of 
their love, and of their mutual confession of 
it ! Fear of herself kept her behind the cur- 


tain ; wliile interest in Lord Harry detained 
her at tlie window in hidinc^. 

' All well at Eathco P ' he asked — men- 
tioning the name of the house in which Arthur 
was one of the guests. 

' Yes, my lord. Mr. Mountjoy leaves us 

' Does he mean to return to the farm .^ ' 

' Sorry I am to say it ; he does mean 

' Has he fixed any time, Miles, for starting 
on his journey ? ' 

Miles instituted a search through his 
pockets, and accompanied it by an explana- 
tion. Yes, indeed. Master Arthur had fixed a 
time ; he had written a note to say so to Mis- 
tress Lewson the housekeeper ; lie had said, 
' Drop the note at the farm, on your way to the 
village.' And what might Miles want at the 
village, in the dark ? Medicine, in a hurry, 
for one of his master's horses that was sick 


and sinking. And, speaking of that, here, 
thank God, was the note ! 

Iris, hstening and watching alternately, 
saw to her surprise the note intended for Mrs. 
Lewson handed to Lord Harry. ' Am I ex- 
pected,' he asked jocosely, ' to read writing 
without a light ? ' Miles produced a small 
lantern which was strapped to his groom's 
belt. ' There's parts of the road not over safe 
in the dark,' he said as he raised the shade 
which guarded the light. The wild lord 
coolly opened the letter, and read the few 
careless words which it contained. 'To Mrs. 
Lewson : — Dear old girl, expect me back to- 
morrow to dinner at three o'clock. — Yours, 

There was a pause. 

' Are there any strangers at Eathco P ' 
Lord Harry asked. 

' Two new men,' Miles replied, ' at work 
in the ^rounds.' 


There was another pause. ' How can I 
protect him ? ' the young lord said partly to 
liimself partly to Miles. He suspected the 
two new men — s])ies ])robably wlio knew of 
Arthur's proposed journey home, and -wlio 
liad already reported to tlieir employers the 
hour at whicli he would set out. 

Miles ventured to say a word : ' I hope 
you won't be angry with me, my lord ' 

' Stuff and nonsense ! Was I ever angry 
with you, when I was rich enough to keep a 
servant, and when you were the man ? ' 

The Irish groom answered in a voice 
that trembled with strong feeling. 'You 
were the best and kindest master that ever 
hved on this eartli. I can't see you putting 
your precious life in peril ' 

' My precious life ? ' Lord Harry repeated 
lightly. ' You're thinking of Mr. Mountjoy, 
when you say tliat. 77/^' life is worth saving. 
As for my life ' He ended tlie sen- 


tence by a wliistle, as the best way he could 
hit on of expressing his contempt for his OAvn 

' My lord ! my lord I ' Miles persisted ; 
' the Invincibles are beginning to doubt you. 
If any of them find j^ou hanging about Mr. 
Mount joy's farm, they'll try a shot at you 
first, and ask afterwards whether it was right 
to kill you or not.' 

To hear this said— and said seriously — 
after the saving of him at the milestone, was 
a trial of her firmness which Iris was unable 
to resist. Love got the better of prudence. 
She drew back the Avindow-curtain. In 
another moment, she would have added her 
persuasion to the servant's warning, if Lord 
Harry himself had not accidentally checked 
her by a proceeding, on his part, for which 
she was not prepared. 

' Show the light,' he said ; ' I'll write a line 
to Mr. Mountjoy.' 

VOL. I. G 


He tore off the blank page from the note 
to the housekeeper, and wrote to Arthur, 
entreathig him to change the time of his de- 
parture from Eathco, and to tell no creature 
in the house, or out of the house, at what 
new hour he had arranged to go. ' Saddle 
your horse yourself,' the letter concluded. 
It was written in a feigned hand, Avitliout a 

' Give that to Mr. Mountjoy,' Lord Harry 
said. ' If he asks who wrote it, don't frighten 
him about me by telling the truth. Lie, 
Miles ! Say you don't know.' He next re- 
turned the note for Mrs. Lewson. 'If she 
notices that it has been opened,' he resumed, 
' and asks who has done it, lie again. Good- 
nisfht. Miles — and mind those dan£>"erous 
places on your road liomc.' 

The groom darkened his lantern ; and the 
wild lord was lost to view, round the side of 
the house. 


Left by himself, Miles rapped at the door 
with the handle of his whip. ' A letter from 
Mr. Arthur,' he called out. Mrs. Lewson at 
once took the note, and examined it by the 
light of the candle on the hall-table. ' Some- 
body has been reading this ! ' she exclaimed, 
stepping out to the groom, and showing him 
the torn envelope. Miles, promptly obeying 
his instructions, declared that he knew nothing 
. about it, and rode away. 

Iris descended the stairs, and joined Mrs. 
Lewson in the hall before she 4iad closed the 
door. The housekeeper at once produced 
Arthur's letter. 

' It's on my mind. Miss,' she said, • to WTite 
an answer, and say something to Mr. Arthur 
which wnll persuade him to take care of him- 
self, on his w^ay back to tlie farm. The 
difficulty is, how am I to expiress it? You 
would l)e doing; a kind thino; if you would 
liive me a word of advice.' 

G 2 


Iris willingly complied. A second note, 
from the anxious housekeeper, might help the 
effect of the few lines which Lord Harry had 

Arthur's letter informed Iris that he had 
arranged to return at three o'clock. Lord 
Harry's question to the groom, and the man's 
reply, instantly recurred to her memory : 
' Are there any strangers at Eathco P '■ — ' Two 
new men at work in the grounds.' Arriving 
at the same conclusion which had already 
occurred to Lord Harry, Iris advised the 
liousekeeper, in writing to Arthur, to entreat 
him to change the hour, secretly, at which 
he left his friend's house on tlic next day. 
Warmly approving of this idea, Mrs. Lewson 
hurried into the parlour to write her letter. 
' Don't go to bed yet. Miss,' she said ; ' I want 
you to read it before I send it away the first 
thincf to-morrow mornino'.' 

Left alone in the halh witli tlie door open 


before her, Iris looked out on the niglit, 

The hves of the two men in whom slie 
was interested — in widely different ways — 
were now both threatened ; and the imminent 
danger, at that moment, was the danger of 
Lord Harry. He was an outlaw whose cha- 
racter W'Ould not bear investigation ; but, to 
give him his due, there was no risk which he 
was not ready to confront for Arthurs sake. 
If he was still recklessly lingering, on the 
watch for assassins in the danegerous neigh- 
bourhood of the farm, who but herself pos- 
sessed the influence which would prevail on 
him to leave the place? She had joined Mrs. 
Lewson at the door with that conviction in 
her mind. In another instant, she was out 
of the liouse, and bea-inninii" her search in the 

Iris made the round of the building ; 
sometimes feeling her way in obscure places, 


sometimes calling to Lord Harry cautiously 
by liis name. No living creature appeared ; 
no sound of a inovement disturbed tlie still- 
ness of tlie night. The discovery of his ab- 
sence, wliich she had not dared to hope for, 
was the cheering discovery which she had 
now made. 

On her way back to the house, she 
became conscious of the rashness of the act 
into which her own generous impulse liad 
betrayed her. 

If she and Lord Harry had met, could she 
have denied the tender interest in him which 
her own conduct would then have revealed ? 
Would he not have been justified in con- 
cluding that she had pardoned the errors and 
the vices of his life, and that he ]night with- 
out impropriety remind her of their engage^ 
ment, and claim her hand in marriage? She 
trembled as she tliought of the concessions 
which lie mi^-ht have wruno' from her. 


' Never more,' she determined, ' shall my own 
folly be answerable for it, if he and I meet 

She had returned to Mrs. Lewson, and 
had read over the letter to Arthur, when the 
farm clock, striking the hour, reminded them 
that it was time to retire. They slept badly 
that nio^ht. 

At six in the morning, one of the two 
labourers who had remained faithful to 
Arthur was sent away on horseback with the 
housekeeper's reply, and with orders to wait 
for an answer. Allowing time for oivino: the 
horse a rest, the man might be expected to 
return before noon. 



^T was a fine sunshiny day ; Mrs. 

Lewson's spirits began to improve. 

' I have always held the belief,' the 
worthy old woman confessed, ' that bright 
weather brings good luck — of course pro- 
vided the day is not a Friday. This is 
Wednesday. Cheer up. Miss.' 

The messenger returned with good news. 
Mr. Arthur had been as merry as usual. He 
had made fun of another letter of good 
advice, received without a signature. ' But 
Mrs. Lewson must have her way,' he said. 
' My love to tlie old dear — I'll start two hours 
later and be back to dinner at five.' 

'Where did Mr. Arthur give you that 
message ? ' Iris inquired. 


' At the stables, Miss, while I was putting 
up the horse. The men about were all on tlie 
broad grin when they heard Mr. Arthur's 

Still in a morbid state of mind, Iris 
silently regretted that tlie message had not 
been written, instead of being delivered by 
word of mouth. Here, again, she (like the 
wild lord) had been afraid of hsteners. 

The hours wore slowly on until it was 
past four o'clock. Iris could endure the sus- 
pense no longer. ' It's a lovely afternoon,' she 
said to Mrs. Lewson. ' Let us take a walk 
along the road, and meet Arthur.' To this 
proposal the housekeeper readily agreed. 

It w^as nearly five o'clock when they 
reached a place at which a by-road branched 
off, through a wood, from the highway which 
they had hitlierto followed. Mrs. Lewson 
found a seat on a felled tree. ' We had 
better not go any farther,' she said. 


Iris asked if there was any reason for 

There was an excellent reason. A few 
yards farther on, the high road had been 
diverted from the straight line (in the interest 
of a large agricultural village), and was then 
directed again into its former course. The 
by-road through the wood served as a short 
cut, for horsemen and pedestrians, from one 
divergent point to the other. It was next to 
a certainty that Arthur would return by the 
short cut. But, if accident or caprice led to 
his preferring the highway, it was clearly 
necessary to wait for him within view of both 
the roads. 

Too restless to submit to a state of pas- 
sive expectation. Iris proposed to follow the 
bridle-path through the wood for a little way, 
and to return if she failed to see anything of 
Arthur. ' You are tired,' she said kindly 
to her companion ; ' pray don't move ' 


Mrs. Lewson looked needlessly uneasy : 
' You might lose yourself, Miss. Mind you 
keep to the patli ! ' 

Iris followed the pleasant windings of the 
woodland track. In the liope of meeting 
Arthur she considerably extended the lengtli 
of her walk. The wliite line of the higli road, 
as it passed the farther end of the wood, 
showed itself through the trees. She turned 
at once to rejoin Mrs. Lewson. 

On her way back she made a discovery. 
A ruin which she had not previously noticed 
showed itself amonsf the trees on her left 
hand. Her curiosity was excited ; she 
strayed aside to examine it more closely. 
The crumbling walls, as she approached 
them, looked like the remains of. an ordinary 
dwelhng-house. Age is essential to the 
picturesque effect of decay ; a modern ruin 
is an unnatural and depressing object — and 
here the horrid thincr was. 


As she turned to retrace lier steps to ilie 
road, a man walked out of the inner space 
enclosed by all that was left of the dismantled 
house. A cry of alarm escaped her. Was 
she the victim of destiny, or the sport of 
chance .^ There was the wild lord whom she 
had vowed never to see ao-ain : the master of 
her heart — perhaps the master of her fate ! 

Any other man Avould have been amazed 
to see her, and would have asked how it had 
happened tliat the English lady presented 
lierself to liini in an Irish wood. This man 
enjoyed the delight of seeing her, and ac- 
cepted it as a blessing that was not to be 
questioned. ' My angel has dropped from 
Heaven,' he said. ' May Heaven be praised ! ' 

He approached her ; his arms closed 
round her. She struggled to free herself 
from his embrace. At that moment they 
both heard the crackle of breakinc^ under- 
wood amonu the trees behind them. Lord 


Harry looked round. ' This is a dangerous 
place,' he whispered ; ' I'm waiting to sec 
Arthur pass safely. Submit to be kissed, or 
I am a dead man.' His eyes told lier that lie 
was truly and fearfully in earnest. Her head 
sank on his bosom. As he bent down and 
kissed her, three men approached from their 
hiding-place among the trees. They had no 
doubt been watching him, under orders from 
the murderous brotherhood to which they 
belonged. Their pistols were ready in their 
hands — and what discovery had they made ? 
There was the brother who had been de- 
nounced as having betrayed them, guilty of 
no worse treason than meeting liis sweetheart 
in a wood I ' We beg your pardon, my lord,' 
they cried with a thoroughly Irish enjoyment 
of their own discomfiture — and burst into a 
roar of laughter — and left the lovers together. 
For the second time, Iris had saved Lord 
Harry at a crisis in liis life. 


' Let me go ! ' she pleaded faintly, trem- 
bling with superstitious fear for the first time 
in her experience of herself. 

He held her to him as if he would never 
let her go again. ' Oli, my Sweet, give me a 
last chance. Helj:) me to be a better man ! 
You have only to will it, Iris, and to make 
me worthy of you.' 

His arms suddenly trembled round her, 
and dropped. The silence was broken by a 
distant sound, like the report of a shot. He 
looked towards the farther end of the Avood. 
In a minute more, the thump of a horse's 
hoofs at a gallop was audible, where the 
bridle-path was hidden among the trees. It 
came nearer — nearer — the creature burst 
into view, wild with fright, and carrying an 
empty saddle. Lord Harry rushed into the 
path, and seized the horse as it swerved at 
the sight of liim. There was a leather pocket 
attached to the front of the saddle. ' Searcli 

She drczv out a silver travellins-fask. One fiance at the navie engraved on it told him the 

terrible truth. 


it!' lie cried to Iris, forcing tlic terrified 
animal back on its haunches. She drew out 
a silver travellini>'-flask. One aiance at the 
name engraved on it told him the terrible 
truth. His trembling hands lost their hold. 
The horse escaped ; the words burst from his 
lips : 

' Oh, God, they've killed him ! ' 





HILE the line to be taken by the 
new railway between Cnlni and 
Everill was still under discussion, 
the engineer caused some difference of opinion 
among the moneyed men who were the first 
Directors of the Company, by asking if they 
proposed to include among their stations the 
little old town of Honey buzzard. 

For years past, commerce had declined, 
and population had decreased in tliis ancient 
and curious place. Painters knew it well, 

VOL. I. H 


and prized its media3val lioiises as a mine 
of valuable material for tlieir art. Persons 
of cultivated tastes, who were interested in 
church architecture of the fourteenth centur}^ 
sometimes pleased and flattered the Piector by 
subscribing^ to his fund for the restoration of 
the tower, and the removal of tlie accumulated 
rubbish of hundreds of years from the crypt. 
Small speculators, not otherwise in a state of 
insanity, settled themselves in the town, and 
tried the desperate experiment of opening a 
shop ; spent their little capital, put up the 
shutters, and disappeared. The old market- 
place stiir showed its list of market-laws, issued 
by the Mayor and • Corporation in the pros- 
perous bygone times ; and every week there 
were fewer and fewer people to obey the laws. 
The great empty enclosure looked more 
cheerful wlien there was no market held, and 
when the boys of the town played in tlie 
deserted place. In the last warehouse left in 


a state of repair, the crane was generally idle ; 
the windows were mostly sliut up ; and a 
solitary man represented languishing trade, 
idling at a half-opened d'oor. The muddy 
river rose and fell with tlie distant tide. At 
rare intervals a collier discharged its cargo on 
the mouldering quay, or an empty barge took 
in a load of hay. One bold house advertised, 
in a dirty window, apartments to let. There 
was a lawyer in the town, who had no occa- 
sion to keep a clerk ; and there was a doctor 
who hoped to sell his practice for anythino- 
that it would fetch. The directors of the new 
railway, after a stormy meeting, decided on 
offering (by means of a station) a last chance 
of revival to the dying town. The town had 
not vitahty enough left to be grateful; the 
railway stimulant produced no effect. Of all 
his colleagues in Great Britain and Ireland, 
the station-master at Honeybuzzard was the 
idlest man — and this, as he said to the uneni- 

H 2 


ployed porter, through no want of energy on 
his own part. 

Late on a rainy autumn afternoon, the 
slow train left one traveller at the station. 
He got out of a first-class carriage ; he carried 
an umbrella and a travelling-bag ; and he 
asked his way to the best inn. The station- 
master and the porter compared notes. One 
of them said : ' Evidently a gentleman.' The 
other added: 'What can he possibly want 
here ? ' 

The stranger twice lost his way in tlie 
tortuous old streets of the town before he 
reached the inn. On giving liis orders, it ap- 
peared that he wanted three things : a private 
room, something to eat, and, while the dinner 
was being cooked, materials for writing a 

Answering her daughter's questions down- 
stairs, the landlady described her guest as a 
nice-looking man dressed in deep mourning. 


' Young, my clear, with beautiful dark brown 
hair, and a grand beard, and a sweet sorrowful 
look. Ah, his eyes would tell anybody that 
his black clothes are not a mere sham. Whe- 
ther married or single, of course I can't say. 
But I noticed the name on his travelhng bag. 
A distinguished name, in my opinion — Hugh 
Mountjoy. I wonder what he'll order to drink 
when he has his dinner? What a mercy it 
will be if we can get rid of another bottle of 
the sour French wine ! ' 

The bell in the private room rang at that 
moment ; and the landlady's daughter, it is 
needless to say, took the opportunity of form- 
ing her own opinion of Mr. Hugh Mountjoy. 

' She returned with a letter in her hand, 
consumed by a vain longing for the advan- 
tages of gentle birth. ' Ah, mother, if I was 
a young lady of the higher classes, I know 
whose wife I should like to be ! ' Not par- 
ticularly interested in sentimental aspirations. 


the landlady asked to see Mr. Mountjoy's 
letter. Tlie messenger who delivered it was 
to wait for an answer. It Avas addressed to : 
' Miss Henley, care of Clarence Yimpany, 
Esquire, Honey buzzard.' Urged by an excited 
imagination, the daughter longed to see Miss 
Henley. The mother was at a loss to under- 
stand why Mr. Mountjoy should have troubled 
himself to write the letter at all. ' If he knows 
the young lady Avho is staying at the doctor's 
house,' she said, ' why doesn't he call on Miss 
Henley?' She handed the letter back to her 
daughter. ' There ! let the ostler take it ; he's 
fyot nothing; to do.' 

'No, mother. The ostler's dirty hands 
mustn't touch it — I'll take the letter myself. 
Perhaps I may see Miss Henley.' Such was 
the impression which Mr. Hugh Mountjoy had 
innocently produced on a sensitive young 
person, condemned by destiny to the barren 
sphere of action all'orded by a country inn ! 


The landlady lierself took tlie dinner up- 
stairs — a first course of mutton cliops and 
potatoes ; cooked to a degree of imperfection 
only attained in an English kitchen. The sour 
French wine was still on the good woman's 
mind. 'What would you choose to drink, 
sir?' slie asked. Mr. Mountjoy seemed to 
feel no interest in what he might have to 
drink. ' We have some French wine, sir.' 
' Thank you, ma'am ; that will do.' 
When tlie bell rani? ao-ain, and the time 
came to produce the second course of cheese 
and celery, the landlady allowed the waiter to 
take her place. Her experience of the farmers 
who frequented the inn, and who had in some 
few cases been induced to taste the wine, 
warned her to anticipate an outbreak of just 
anger from Mr. Mountjoy. He, like the 
others, would probably ask what she ' meant 
by poisoning him with such stuff as that ? ' On 
the return of the waiter, she put the question : 


' Did the gentleman complain of the French 
wine ? ' 

' He wants to see you about it, ma'am/ 

The landlady turned pale. The expression 
of Mr. Mountjoy's indignation was evidently 
reserved for the mistress of the house. ' Did 
he swear,' she asked, ' when he tasted it ? ' 

' Lord bless you, ma'am, no ! Drank it out 
of a tumbler, and — if you will believe me — 
actually seemed to like it.' 

The landlady recovered her colour. Grati- 
tude to Providence for having sent a customer 
to the inn, who could drink sour wine without 
discovering it, was the uppermost feeling in 
her ample bosom as she entered the private 
room. Mr. Mountjoy justified her anticipa- 
tions. He was simple enough — with his 
tumbler before him, and the wine as it were 
under his nose — to begin with an apology. 

' I am sorry to trouble you, ma'am. May 
I ask where you got this wine ? ' 


' The wine, sir, was one of my late hus- 
band's bad debts. It was all he could get 
from a Frenchman who owed liim money.' 

' It's worth money, ma'am.' 

' Indeed, sir ? ' 

' Yes, indeed. This is some of tlie fmest 
and purest claret that I have tasted for many 
a long day past.' 

An alarming suspicion disturbed the se- 
renity of the landlady's mind. Was this ex- 
traordinary opinion of the Avine sincere ? Or 
was it Mr. Mountjoy's wicked design to entrap 
her into praising her claret, and then to imply 
that she was a cheat by declaring what lie 
really thought of it ? She took refuge in a 
cautious reply : 

' You are the first gentleman, sir, who has 
not found fault with it.' 

' In that case, perhaps you would like to 
get rid of the wine ? ' Mr. Mountjoy sug- 


Tlie landlady was still cautious. ' Who 
will buy it of me, sir ? ' 

' I will. How mucli do you charge for it 
by the bottle ? ' 

It was, by this time, clear that lie was not 
mischievous — only a little crazy. The, worldly- 
wise hostess took advantage of that circum- 
stance to double the price. Without hesita- 
tion, she said : ' Five shillings a bottle, sir.' 

Often, too often, the irony of circumstances 
brings together, on this earthly scene, the 
opposite types of vice and virtue. A lying 
landlady and a guest incapable of deceit were 
looking at each other across a narrow table ; 
equally unconscious of the immeasurable moral 
gulf that lay between them. Influenced by 
honourable feeling, innocent Hugh Mountjoy 
lashed the landlady's greed for money to the 
full-gallop of human cupidity. 

' I don't think you are aware of the value 
of your wine,' he said. 'I have claret in my 


cellar wliicli is not so o-oocl as tliis, and wliicli 
costs more than you have asked. It is only 
fair to offer you seven-and-sixpence a bottle.' 

Wlien an eccentric traveller is asked to 
pay a price, and deliberately raises that price 
against himself, where is the sensible woman 
— especially if she happens to be a widow 
conducting an unprofitable business — who 
would hesitate to improve the opportunity ? 
The greedy landlady raised her terms. 

' On reflection, sir, I think I ought to have 
ten shillings a bottle, if you please.' 

' The wine may be worth it,' Mountjoy 
answered quietly ; ' but it is more than I can 
afford to pay. No, ma'am ; I will leave you 
to find some lover of o-ood claret with a lono-er 
purse than mine.' 

It was in this man's character, when he said 
Xo, to mean No. Mr. Mountjoy 's hostess per- 
ceived that her crazy customer was not to be 
trifled with. She lowered her terms a^'ain with 


tlie headlong hurry of terror. ' You shall have 
it, sir, at your own price,' said this entirely 
shameless and perfectly respectable woman. 

The bargain having been closed under 
these circumstances, the landlady's daughter 
knocked at the door. 'I took your letter 
myself, sir,' she said modestly ; ' and here is 
the answer.' (She had seen Miss Henley, and 
did not think much of her.) Mountjoy 
offered the expression of his thanks, in words 
never to be forgotten by a sensitive young 
person, and opened his letter. It was short 
enou<ih to be read in a moment ; but it was 
evidently a favourable reply. He took his hat 
in a hurry, and asked to be shown the way to 
Mr. Vimpany's house. 




decided on 
travelling to 
H o n e y b u z- 
zard, as soon 
as he heard 
that Miss Hen- 
ley was staying 
with strangers 
in that town. 
Having had no 
earlier oj)por- 
tnnity of pre- 
paring her to 
see him, he had 


considerately written to her from the inn, in 
preference to presenting himself unexpectedly 
at the doctor's house. How would slie re- 
ceive the devoted friend, whose proposal of 
marriage she had refused for the second time, 
when they had last met in London ? 

The doctor's place of residence, situated 
in a solitary by-street, commanded a view, 
not perhaps encouraging to a gentleman who 
followed the medical profession : it was a 
view of the churchyard. The door w^as 
opened by a w^oman-servant, Avho looked sus- 
piciously at the stranger. Without waiting to 
be questioned, she said her master was out. 

• Mountjoy mentioned his name, and asked 
for Miss Henley. 

' The servant's manner altered at once for 
the better ; she showed him into a small 
drawing-room, scantily and cheaply furnished. 
Some poorly- framed prints on the walls (a little 
out of place, perhaps, in a doctor's house) 

Impulsively she dreiv his head dozvn. 


represented portraits of famous actresses, ^vllo 
had been queens of the stage in the early part 
of the present centur3\ The few books, too, 
collected on a little shelf above the chimney- 
piece, were in every case specimens of dra- 
matic literature. ' Who reads these plays P' 
Mountjoy asked himself. ' And how did Iris 
lind her way into this house ? ' 

While he was thinking of her, Miss Henley 
entered the room. 

Her face was pale and careworn ; teai-s 
dimmed her eyes when Mountjoy advanced to 
meet ]]er. In his presence, the horror of his 
brother's death by assassination sliook Iris as 
it had not shaken her yet. Impulsively, she 
drew his head down to her, with the fond 
familiarity of a sister, and kissed his foreliead. 
.'Oh, Hugh, I know how you and Arthur loved 
each other ! Xo words of mhie can say how 
I feel for 3'ou.' 

' Xo words are wanted, my dear,' he 


answered tenderly. ' Your sympathy speaks 
for itself.' 

He led her to the sofa and seated himself 
by her side. 'Your father has shown me 
what you have written to him,' he resumed ; 
' your letter from Dublin and your second 
letter from this place. I know what you 
have so nobly risked and suffered in poor 
Arthur's interests. It will be some consola- 
tion to me if I can make a return — a very poor 
return, Iris — for all that Arthur's brother owes 
to the truest friend that ever man had. No,' 
he continued, gently interrupting the expres- 
sion of her gratitude. ' Your father has not 
sent me here — but he knows that I have left 
London for the express purpose of seeing j^ou, 
and he knows why. You have written to him 
dutifully and affectionately ; you have pleaded 
for pardon and reconciliation, when he is to 
blame. Shall I venture to tell you how he 
answered me, when I asked if he had no faith 


left in his own child ? " Hugh," he said, " you 
are wasting words on a man whose mind is 
made up. I will trust my daughter when 
that Irisli lord is laid in his grave — not before." 
That is a reflection on you, Iris, whicli I can- 
not permit, even when your father casts it, 
He is hard, he is unforgiving ; but he must, 
and shall, be conquered yet. I mean to 
make him do you justice ; I have come 
liere with that purpose, and that purpose 
only, in view. May I speak to you of Lord 
Harry ? ' 

' How can you doubt it ? ' 

' My dear, tliis is a delicate subject for mc 
to enter on.' 

* And a shameful subject for Me!' Iris 
broke out bitterly. ' Hugh ! you are an 
angel, by comparison with that man — how 
debased I must be to love him— how unworthy 
of your good opinion ! Ask me anything you 
like; have no mercy on me. Oli,' she cried, 

VOL. I. I 


with reckless contempt for herself, ' why don't 
you beat me ? I deserve it ! ' 

Mouiitjoy was well enough acquainted 
with the natures of women to pass over 
that passionate outbreak, instead of fanning 
the flame in her by reasoning and remon- 

' Your father will not listen to the ex- 
pression of feeling,' he continued ; ' but it is 
possible to rouse his sense of justice by the 
expression of facts. Help me to speak to 
him more plainly of Lord Harry than you 
could speak in your letters. I want to know 
what has happened, from the time when 
events at Ardoon brought you and the young 
lord together again, to the time when you 
left him in Ireland after my brother's death. 
If I seem to expect too much of you. Iris, 
pray remember that I am speaking with a 
true regard for your interests.' 

In those words, he made his o'enerous 


appeal to her. She proved herself to be 
worthy of it. 

Stated briefly, the retrospect began with 
the mysterious anonymous letters whicli had 
been addressed to Sir Giles. 

Lord Harry's explanation had been offered 
to Iris gratefully, but with some reserve, after 
she had told him who the stranger at the 
milestone really was. 'I entreat you to par- 
don me, if I shrink from entering into parti- 
culars,' he had said. ' Circumstances, at the 
time, amply justified me in the attempt to use 
the banker's political influence as a means of 
securing Arthur's safety. I knew enough of 
Sir Giles's mean nature to be careful in trust- 
ing him ; but I did hope to try what my per- 
sonal influence might do. If he had possessed 
a tenth part of your courage, Arthur miglit 
have been alive, and safe in England, at this 
moment. I can't say any more ; I daren't 

I '1 


say any more ; it maddens me when I think 
of it ! ' He abruptly changed tlie subject, 
and interested Lis by speaking of otlier 
and later events. Ilis association with the 
Invincibles — inexcusably rash and wicked as 
he himself confessed it to be — had enabled him 
to penetrate, and for a time to defeat secretly 
the murderous designs of the brotherhood. 
His appearances, first at the farmhouse and 
afterwards at the ruin in tlie wood, were 
referable to changes in the plans of the 
assassins which had come to his knowledge. 
When Iris had met with him he was ou the 
watch, beUeving that his friend w^ould take 
the short way back through the wood, and 
well aware that -his own life might pay the 
penalty if he succeeded in warning Arthur. 
After the terrible discovery of the murder 
(committed on the high road), and the escape of 
the miscreant who had been guilty of the crime, 
the parting of Lord Harry and Miss Henley 


had been the next event. She had left hiin, 
on her return to England, and had refused to 
consent to any of the future meetings between 
them which he besought her to grant. 

At this stage in the narrative, Mountjoy 
felt compelled to ask questions more search- 
ing than he had put to Iris yet. It was pos- 
sible that she might be trusting her own 
impressions of Lord Harry, with the ill- 
placed confidence of a woman innocently 
8 elf- deceived. 

' Did he submit willingly to your leaving 
him ? ' Mountjoy said. 

' Not at first,' she replied. 

'Has he released you from that rash engage- 
ment, of some years since, which pledged you 
to marry him ? ' 


' Did he allude to the engagement, on this 


' He said he held to it as the one hope of 

' And what did you say ? ' 

' I implored him not to distress me.' 

' Did you say nothing more positive than 
that ? ' 

' I couldn't help thinking, Hugh, of all 
that he had tried to do to save Arthur. But 
I insisted on leaving him — and I have left 

' Do you remember what he said at part- 

' He said, " "While I live, I love you." ' 

As she repeated the words, there was an 
involuntary change to tenderness in her voice 
which was not lost on Mountjoy. 

' I must be sure,' he said to her gravely, 
' of what I tell your father when I go back to 
him. Can I declare, with a safe conscience, 
that you will never see Lord Harry again ? ' 

'My mind is made up never to see him 


again.' She had answered firmly so far. Her 
next words were spoken with hesitation, in 
tones that faltered. ' But I am sometimes 
afraid,' slie said, ' that the decision may not 
rest with me.' 

' What do you mean ? ' 
' I would rather not tell you.' 
' That is a strange answer, Iris.' 
' I value your good opinion, Hugh ; and 1 
am afraid of losing it.' 

* Nothing has ever altered my opinion of 
you,' he replied ; ' and nothing ever will.' 

She looked at him anxiously, with the 
closest attention. Little by little, the expres- 
sion of doubt in her face disappeared ; she 
knew how he loved her — she resolved to 
trust him. 

' My friend,' she began abruptly, ' educa- 
tion has done nothing for me. Since I left 
Ireland, I have sunk (I don't know liow or 
why) into a state of superstitious fear. Yes ! 


I believe in a fatality which is leading me 
back to Lord Harry, in spite of myself. Twice 
already, since I left home, I have met with 
him ; and eacli time I have been the means of 
saving him — once at the milestone, and once 
at the ruin in the wood. If my father still 
accuses me of being in love with an adven- 
turer, you can say with perfect truth that I 
am afraid of him. I am afraid of the third 
meeting. I have done my best to escape from 
that man ; and step by step, as I think I am 
getting away, Destiny is taking me back to 
him. I may be on my way to him here, 
hidden in this wretched little town. Oh, 
don't despise me ! Don't be ashamed of 
me ! ' 

' My dear, I am interested — deeply inter- 
ested in you. That there may be some such 
influence as Destiny in our poor mortal lives 
I dare not deny. But I don't agree with your 
conclusion. What Destiny is to do with you 


and with me, neither you nor I can pretend 
to know beforehand. In the presence of that 
great mystery, humanity must submit to be 
ignorant. Wait, Iris — wait ! ' 

She answered him with the simplicity of a 
docile child: ' I will do anything you tell me.' 

Mountjoy was too fond of her to say more 
of Lord Harry, for that day. He was careful 
to lead tlie talk to a topic which might be 
trusted to provoke no agitating thoughts. 
Finding Iris to all appearance established in 
the doctor's house, he was naturally anxious 
to know something of the person who must 
have invited her — the doctor's wife. 




OUNTJGY bei^an bv alkidino' to tlie 
second of Miss Henley's letters to 
her father, and to a passage in it 
wliich mentioned Mrs. Yimpany with expres- 
sions of the sincerest gratitude. 

'I should like to know more,' he said, 
' of a lady whose hospitality at home seems to 
equal her kindness as a fellow-traveller. Did 
you first meet with her on the railway P ' 

' She travelled by the same train to Dublin, 
with me and my maid, but not in the same 
carriage,' Iris answered ; ' I was so fortunate 
as to meet with lier on tlie voyage from 
Dubhn to Holyhead. We had a rough 


crossing ; and Elioda suffered so dreadfully 
from sea-sickness that she frightened me. 
The stewardess was attending to ladies who 
were calling for her in all directions ; I really 
don't know what misfortune miglit not have 
happened, if Mrs. Vimpany had not come 
forward in the kindest manner, and offered 
help. She knew so wonderfully well what 
was to be done, that she astonished me. " I 
am the wife of a doctor," she said ; " and I am 
only imitating what I have seen my husband 
do, when his assistance has been required, at 
sea, in weather like this." In her poor state 
of health, Ehoda was too much exhausted to 
go on by tlie train, when we got to Holyhead. 
She is the best of good girls, and I am fond 
of her, as you know. If I had been by myself, 
I dare say I should have sent for medical help. 
What do you think dear Mrs. Yimpany offered 
to do? "Your maid is only faint," she said. 
" Give her rest and some iced wine, and she will 


be well enough to go on by the slow train. 
Don't be frightened about her ; I will wait 
with you." And she did wait. Are there 
many strangers, Hugh, who are as unselfishly 
good to others as my chance-acquaintance in 
the steam-boat ? ' 

' Very few, I am afraid.' 

Mountjoy made that reply with some little 
embarrassir nt ; conscious of a doubt of 
Mrs. Yimpany's disinterested kindness, which 
seemed to be unworthy of a just man. 

Iris went on. 

'Elioda was sufficiently recovered,' she 
said, ' to travel by the next train, and there 
seemed to be no reason for feeling any more 
anxiety. But, after a time, the fatigue of 
the journey proved to be too much for her. 
The poor girl turned pale — and fainted. Mrs. 
Vimpany revived her, but, as it turned out, 
only for a while. She fell into another faint- 
ing fit; and my travening-companion began 


to look anxious. There was some difficulty 
in restorin<j^ Elioda to lier senses. In dread 
of another attack, I determined to stop at the 
next station. It looked such a poor place, 
when we got to it, that I hesitated. Mrs. 
Yimpany persuaded me to go on. The next 
station, she said, was lier station. " Stop 
there," she suggested, " and let my husband 
look at the girl. I ought not perhaps to say 
it, but you will find no better medical man 
out of London." I took the good creature's 
advice gratefully. What else could I do ? ' 

' What would you have done,' Mountjoy 
inquired, ' if Ehoda had been strong enough 
to get to the end of the journey ? ' 

' I should have gone on to London, and 
taken refuge in a lodging — you were in town, 
as I believed, and my father might relent in 
time. As it was, I felt my lonely position 
keenly. To meet with kind people, like Mr. 
Yimpany and his wife, was a real blessing to 


siicli a friendless creature as I am — to say 
nothing of the advantage to Ehoda, who is 
getting better every day. I sliould hke you 
to see Mrs. Yimpany, if she is at liome. She 
is a httle formal and old-fashioned in her 
manner — but I am sure you will be pleased 
with her. Ah! you look round the room'! 
Tliey are poor, miserably poor for persons in 
their position, these worthy friends of mine. 
I have had the greatest difficulty in persuading 
them to let me contribute my share towards 
the household expenses. They only yielded 
when I threatened to go to the inn. You are 
looking very serious, Hugh. Is it possible 
that you see some objection to my staying in 
this house ? ' 

The drawing-room door was softly opened, 
at the moment when Iris put that question. 
A lady appeared on the threshold. Seeing 
the stranger, she turned to Iris. 


' I didn't know, dear Miss Henley, that you 
had a visitor. Pray pardon my intrusion.' 

The voice was deep ; the articulation was 
clear ; the smile presented a certain modest 
dignity which gave it a value of its own. 
This was a woman who could make such 
a commonplace thing as an apology worth 
listening to. Iris stopped her as she was 
about to leave the room. ' I was just wishing 
for you,' she said. ' Let me introduce my old 
friend, Mr. Mountjoy. Hugh, this is the lady 
who has been so kind to me; — Mrs. Yimpany.' 

Hugh's impulse, under the circumstances, 
was to dispense with the formahty of a bow, 
. and to shake hands. Mrs. Yimpany met this 
friendly advance with a suavity of action not 
often seen in these days of movement without 
ceremony. She was a tali shm woman, of a 
.certain age. Art had so cleverly improved 
lier complexion that it almost looked like 


nature. Her clieeks had lost the pkimpness 
of youth, but her hak (thanks agam perhaps 
to Art) showed no signs of turning grey. The 
expression of her large dark eyes — placed 
perhaps a little too near to her high aquiline 
nose — claimed admiration from any person 
who was so fortunate as to come within their 
range of view. Her hands, long, yellow, and 
pitiably thin, were used with a grace which 
checked to some extent tlieir cruel betrayal 
of her age. Her dress had seen better days, 
but it was worn with an air wliicli forbade it 
to look actually shabby. The faded lace that 
encircled her neck fell in scanty folds over her 
bosom. She sank into a chair by Hugh's 
side. ' It was a great pleasure to me, Mr. 
Mountjoy, to offer my poor services to Miss 
Henley ; I can't tell you how happy her 
presence makes me in our little house.' The 
compliment was addressed to Iris with every 
advantage that smiles and tones could offer. 


Oddly artificial as it undoubtedly was, Mrs. 
Yimpany's manner produced nevertheless an 
agreeable impression. Disposed to doubt her 
at first, Mountjoy found tliat she was winning 
her way to a favourable change in his opinion. 
She so far interested him, that he began to 
wonder what lier early life might have been, 
when she was young and handsome. He 
looked again at the portraits of actresses on 
the walls, and the plays on the bookshelf — 
and then (when she was speaking to Iris) he 
stole a sly glance at the doctor's wife. Was 
it possible that this remarkable woman had 
once been an actress? He attempted to put the 
value of that guess to the test by means of a 
complimentary allusion to the prints. 

' My memory as a play-goer doesn^t 
extend over many years,' he began ; ' but I 
can appreciate the historical interest of your 
beautiful prints.' Mrs. Vimpany bowed grace- 
fully — and dumbly. Mountjoy tried again. 

VOL. I. K 


' One doesn't often see the famous actresses of 
past days,' lie proceeded, ' so well represented 
on the Avails of an English house.' 

This time, he had spoken to better 
purpose. Mrs. Yimpany answered him in 

' I have many pleasant associations with 
the theatre,' she said, 'first formed in the time 
of my girlhood.' 

Mountjoy waited to hear something more. 
Nothing more was said. Perhaps this reticent 
lady disliked looking back through a long 
interval of years, or perhaps she had her 
reasons for leaving Mountjoy's guess at the 
truth still lost in doubt. In either case, she 
deliberately dropped the subject. Iris took 
it up. Sitting by the only table in the room, 
she was in a position which placed her exactly 
opposite to one of the prints — the magnificent 
portrait of Mrs. Siddons as The Tragic Muse. 

' I wonder if Mrs. Siddons was really as 


beautiful as that P ' she said, pointing to the 
print. ' Sir Joshua Eeynolds is reported to 
have sometimes flattered his sitters.' 

Mrs. Yimpany's solemn self-possessed eyes 
suddenly brightened ; the name of tlie great 
actress seemed to interest her. On the point, 
apparently, of speaking, she dropped the 
subject of Mrs. Siddons as she had dropped 
the subject of the theatre. Mountjoy was 
left to answer Iris. 

' We are none of us old enough,' he 
reminded her, * to decide whether Sir Joshua's 
brush has been guilty of flattery or not.' 
He turned to Mrs. Yimpany, and attempted to 
look into her life from a new point of view. 
'When Miss Henley was so fortunate as to 
make your acquaintance,' he said, ' you were 
travelHng in Ireland. Was it your first visit 
to that unhappy country? ' 

' I have been more than once in Ireland.' 

Having again deliberately disappointed 



Mountjoy, she was assisted in keeping clear 
of the subject of Ireland by a fortunate inter- 
ruption. It was the hour of delivery by the 
afternoon-post. The servant came in with a 
small sealed packet, and a slip of printed 
paper in her hand. 

'It's registered, ma'am,' the woman an- 
nounced. ' The postman says you are to 
please sign this. And he seems to be in a 

She placed the packet and the slip of 
paper on the table, near the inkstand. 
Having signed the receipt, Mrs. Yimpany took 
up the packet, and examined the address. 
She instantly looked at Iris, and looked away 
again. ' Will you excuse me for a moment ? ' 
Saying this she left the room, without opening 
the packet. 

The moment the door closed on her, Iris 
started up, and hurried to Mountjoy. 

Oh, Hugh,' she said, ' I saw the address on 



that packet when the servant put it on the 
table ! ' 

' My dear, what is there to excite you in 
the address ? ' 

' Don't speak so loud ! She may be listen- 
ing outside the door.' 

Not only the words, but the tone in which 
they were spoken, amazed Mountjoy. 'Your 
friend, Mrs. Yimpany ! ' he exclaimed. 

'Mrs. Yimpany was afraid to open the 
packet in our presence,' Iris went on : ' you 
must have seen that. The handwriting is 
familiar to me ; I am certain of the person 
who wrote the address.' 

' Well .^ And who is the person ? ' 

She whispered in his ear : 

' Lord Harry.' 






-=^r^URPEISE si- 
lenced Hugh 
for the mo- 
ment. Iris un- 
derstood the 
look that he 
fixed on her, 
and answered 
it. 'I am quite 
sure,' she told 
him, ' of what 
I say.' 

^-_^ ? 5 "'^'^ Mountj oy's 

well-balanced mind hesitated at rushing to a 


' I am sure you are convinced of what 
you tell me,' he said. ' But mistakes do 
sometimes lia]3pen in forming a judgment of 

In the state of excitement that now 
possessed her, Iris was easily irritated ; she 
was angry with Hugh for only supposing that 
she might have made a mistake. He had 
himself, as she reminded him, seen Lord 
Harry's handwriting in past days. Was it 
possible to be mistaken in those bold thickly- 
written characters, with some of the letters so 
quaintly formed ? 'Oh, Hugh, I am miserable 
enough as it is,' she broke out ; ' don't dis- 
tract me by disputing what I know ! Think 
of a woman so kind, so disinterested, so 
charming — the very opposite of a false crea- 
ture — think of Mrs. Yimpany having deceived 
me ! ' 

There was not the slightest reason, thus 
far, for placing that interpretation on what 


had happened. Mountjoy gently, very gently, 

' My dear, we really don't know yet that 
Mrs. Vimpany has been acting under Lord 
Harry's instructions. Wait a little before you 
suspect your fellow-traveller of offering her 
services for the purpose of deceiving you.' 

Iris was angry with him again : ' Wliy 
did Mrs. Vimpany never tell me she knew 
Lord Harry ? Isn't that suspicious ? ' 

Mountjoy smiled. ' Let me put a question 
on my side,' he said. 'Did you tell Mrs. 
Vimpany you knew Lord Harry ? ' Iris made 
no reply ; her face spoke for her. ' Well, 
then,' he urged, ' is your silence suspicious ? 
I am far, mind, from saying that this may 
not be a very unpleasant discovery. Only 
let us be sure first that we are right.' 

With most of a woman's merits. Miss 
Henley had many of a woman's faults. Still 
holding to her own conclusion, she asked how 


they could expect to be sure of anything if 
they addressed their inquiries to a person who 
had already deceived them. 

Mountjoy's inexhaustible indulgence still 
made allowances for her. ' When Mrs. Yim- 
pany comes back,' he said, ' I will find an 
opportunity of mentioning Lord Harry's name. 
If she tells us that she knows him, there will 
be good reason in that one circumstance, 
as it seems to me, for continuing to trust 

'Suppose she shams ignorance,' Iris per- 
sisted, ' and looks as if she had never heard 
of his name before ? ' 

' In that case, I shall own that I was 
wrong, and shall ask you to forgive me.' 

The finer and better nature of Iris 
recovered its influence at these words. ' It 
is I who ought to beg pardon,' she said. ' Oh, 
I" w^ish I could think before I speak ; how 
insolent and ill-tempered I have been ! But 


suppose I turn out to be right, Hugh, what 
will you do then ? ' 

' Then, my dear, it will be my duty to 
take you and your maid away from this 
house, and to tell your father what serious 

reasons there are ' He abruptly checked 

himself. Mrs. Yimpany had returned ; she 
was in perfect possession of her lofty cour- 
tesy, sweetened by the modest dignity of 
her smile. 

' I have left you, Miss Henley, in such good 
company,' she said, with a gracious inclina- 
tion of her head in the direction of Mountjoy, 
' that I need hardly repeat my apologies — 
unless, indeed, I am interrupting a confidential 

It was possible that Iris might have 
betrayed herself, when the doctor's wife had 
looked at her after examining the address on 
the packet. In this case Mrs. Vimpany's 
allusion to ' a confidential conversation' would 


have operated as a warning to a person of 
experience in the by-ways of deceit. Mount- 
joy's utmost exertion of cunning was not 
capable of protecting him on such conditions 
as these. The opportunity of trying his 
proposed experiment with Lord Harry's name 
seemed to have presented itself already. He 
rashly seized on it. 

'You have interrupted nothing that was 
confidential,' he hastened to assure Mrs. 
Yimpany. ' We have been speaking of a 
reckless young gentleman, who is an ac- 
quaintance of ours. If what I hear is true, 
he has already become public property ; his 
adventures have found their way into some of 
the newspapers.' 

Here, if Mrs. Yimpany had answered 
Hugh's expectations, she ought to have asked 
who the young gentleman was. She merely 
listened in polite silence. 

With a woman's quickness of perception, 


Iris saw that Mountjoy had not only pounced 
on his opportunity preinaturely, but had 
spoken with a downright directness of aUu- 
sion which must at once have put such a 
ready-witted person as Mrs. Yimpany on her 
guard. In trying to prevent him from pur- 
suing his unfortunate experiment in social 
diplomacy, Iris innocently repeated Mount- 
joy's own mistake. She, too, seized her 
opportunity prematurely. That is to say, she 
was rash enough to change the subject. 

' You were talking just now, Hugh, of our 
friend's adventures,' she said ; ' I am afraid 
you will find yourself involved in an adven- 
ture of no very agreeable kind, if you engage 
a bed at the inn. I never saw a more 
wretched -looking place.' 

It was one of Mrs. Yimpany 's many merits 
that she seldom neglected an opportunity of 
setting her friends at their ease. 

' No, no, dear Miss Henley,' she hastened 


to say ; ' tlie inn is really a more clean and 
comfortable place than you suppose. A hard 
bed and a scarcity of furniture are tlie worst 
evils which your friend has to fear. Do you 
know,' she continued, addressing herself to 
Mountjoy, ' that I was reminded of a friend of 
mine," when you spoke just now of the young 
gentleman whose adventures are in the news- 
papers. Is it possible that you referred to 
the brother of the present Earl of Norland ? 
A handsome young Irishman — with whom 
I first became acquainted many years since. 
Am I right in supposing that you and Miss 
Henley know Lord Harry ? ' she asked. 

What more than this could an unpre- 
judiced mind require ? Mrs. Yimpany had 
set herself right with a simplicity that defied 
suspicion. Iris looked at Mountjoy. He 
appeared to know when he was beaten. 
Having acknowledged that Lord Harry was 
the young gentleman of whom he and Miss 


Henley had been speaking, lie rose to take 

After what had passed, Iris felt the neces- 
sity of speaking privately to Hugh. The 
necessary excuse presented itself in the 
remote situation of the inn. ' You will never 
find your way back,' she said, ' through the 
labyrinth of crooked streets in this old town. 
Wait for me a minute, and I will be your 

Mrs. Vimpany protested. ' My dear ! let 
the servant show the way.' 

Iris held gaily to her resolution, and ran 
away to her room. Mrs. Vimpany yielded 
with her best grace. Miss Henley's motive 
could hardly have been plainer to her, if Miss 
Henley had confessed it herself. ' What a 
charming girl ! ' the doctor's amiable wife 
said to Mountjoy, when they were alone. ' If 
I were a man, Miss Iris is just the young lady 
that I should fall in love with.' She looked 


significantly at Mountjoy. Nothing came of 
it. She went on : ' Miss Henley mnst have 
had many opportunities of being married ; 
but the right man has, I fear, not yet pre- 
sented himself.' Once more her eloquent 
eyes consulted Mountjoy, and once more 
nothing came of it. Some women are easily 
discouraged. Impenetrable Mrs. Vimpany 
was one of the other women ; she had not 
done with Mountjoy yet — she invited him to 
dinner on the next day. 

'Our early hour is three o'clock,' she 
said modestly. ' Pray join us. I hope 
to have the pleasure of introducing my 

Mountjoy had his reasons for wishing to 
see the husband. As he accepted the invi- 
tation. Miss Henley returned to accompany 
him to the inn. 

Iris put the inevitable question to Hugh 
as soon as they were out of the doctor's house 


— ' What do you say of Mrs. Yimpany, 
now ? ' 

' I say that she must Jiave been once an 
actress,' Mount] oy answered ; ' and tliat she 
carries her experience of the stage into private 

' What do you propose to do next ? ' 

' I propose to wait and see Mrs. Vimpany's 
husband to-morrow.' 


' Mrs. Yimpany, my dear, is too clever for 
me. If— observe, please, that I do her the 
justice of putting it in that way — if she is 
really Lord Harry's creature, employed to keep 
watch on you, and to inform him of your next 
place of residence in England, I own that she 
has completely deceived me. In that case it 
is just possible that the husband is not such a 
fmished and perfect humbug as the wife. I 
may be able to see through him. I can but 


Iris sighed. ' I almost hope 3^011 may not 
succeed,' she said. 

Mountjoy was puzzled and made no 
attempt to conceal it. 

' I thought you only wanted to get at the 
truth,' he answered. 

'My mind might be easier, perhaps, if I 
was left in doubt,' she suggested. ' A perverse 
way of thinking has set up my poor opinion 
against yours. But I am getting back to my 
better sense. I believe you were entirely right 
when you tried to prevent me from rushing to 
conclusions ; it is more than likely that I have 
done Mrs. Yimpany an injustice. Oh, Hugh, 
I ought to keep a friend — I who have so few 
friends — when I have got one ! And there 
is another feeling in me which I must not 
conceal from you. When I remember Lord 
Harry's noble conduct in trying to save poor 
Arthur, I cannot believe him capable of such 
hateful deceit as consenting to our separation, 

VOL. I. L 


and then having me secretly watched by a 
spy. What monstrous inconsistency ! Can 
anybody beheve it ? Can anybody account 
for it?' 

' I think I can account for it, Iris, if you 
will let me make the attempt. You are mis- 
taken, to begin with.' 

' How am I mistaken ? ' 

' You shall see. There is no such creature 
as a perfectly consistent human being on the 
face of the earth — and, strange as it may seem 
to you, the human beings themselves are not 
aware of it. The reason for this curious state 
of things is not far to seek. How can people 
who are ignorant — as we see every day — of 
their own characters be capable of correctly 
estimating the characters of others? Even 
the influence of their rehgion fails to open 
their eyes to the truth. In tlie Prayer which 
is the most precious possession of Christendom 
their lips repeat the entreaty that they may 


not be led into temptation — but their minds 
fail to draw the inference. If that pathetic peti- 
tion means anything, it means that virtuous men 
and women are capable of becoming vicious 
men and women, if a powerful temptation puts 
them to the test. Every Sunday, devout 
members of the congregation in church — 
models of excellence in their own estimation, 
and in the estimation of their neighbours — 
declare that they have done those things which 
they ought not to have done, and that there 
is no health in them. Will you believe that 
they are encouraged by their Prayer-books to 
present this sad exposure of the frailty of their 
own admirable characters ? How inconsistent 
— and yet how entirely true ! Lord Harry, 
as you rightly say, behaved nobly in trying to 
save my dear lost brother. He ought, as you 
think, and as other people think, to be consis- 
tently noble, after that, in all his thoughts and 
actions, to the end of his life. Suppose that 


temptation does try him — such temptation, 
Iris, as you innocently present — why doesn't 
he offer a superhuman resistance ? You 
might as well ask. Why is he a mortal man ? 
How inconsistent, how improbable, that he 
should have tendencies to evil in him, as well 
as tendencies to good ! Ah, I see you don't 
like this. It would be infinitely more agree- 
able (wouldn't it ?) if Lord Harry was one of 
the entirely consistent characters, which are 
sometimes presented in works of fiction. Our 
good English readers are charmed with the 
man, the woman, or the child, who is intro- 
duced to them by the kind novelist as a 
being without faults. Do they stop to con- 
sider whether this is a true picture of human- 
ity ? It would be a terrible day for the book, 
if they ever did that. But the book is in no 
danger. The readers would even fail to dis- 
cover the falseness of the picture, if they were 
presented to themselves as perfect characters. 


" We mustn't say so, but liow wonderfully like 
us ! " There would be the only impression 
produced. I am not trying to dishearten you ; 
I want to encourage you to look at humanity 
from a wider and truer point of view. • Do 
not be too readily depressed, if you fmd your 
faith shaken in a person whom you have 
hitherto believed to be good. That person 
has been led into temptation. Wait till time 
shows you that the evil influence is not ever- 
lasting, and that the good influence will in- 
consistently renew your faith, out of the 
very depths of your despair. Humanity, in 
general, is neither perfectly good nor perfectly 
wicked : take it as you find it. Is this a hard 
lesson to learn ? Well ! it's easy to do what 
other people do under similar circumstances. 
Listen to the unwelcome truth to-day, my 
dear ; and forget it to-morrow.' 

They parted at the door of the inn. 




^E. YIMPANY (of the College of Sur- 
geons) was a burly man, heavily 
built from head to foot. His bold 
round eyes looked straight at his fellow-crea- 
tures with an expression of impudent good 
humour ; his whiskers were bushy, his hands 
were big, his lips were thick, his legs were 
solid. Add to this a broad sunburnt face, 
and a grey coat with wide tails, a waistcoat 
with a check pattern, and leather riding- 
gaiters — and no stranger could have failed to 
mistake Mr. Yimpany for a farmer of the old 
school. He was proud of the false impression 
that he created. 'Nature built me to be a 

mount; OY PLAYS A NEW CARD 151 

farmer,' he used to say. ' But my poor foolish 
old mother was a lady by birth, and she in- 
sisted on her son being a professional man. I 
hadn't brains for the Law, or money for the 
Army, or morals for the Church. And here I 
am a country doctor — the one representative 
of slavery left in the nineteenth century. You 
may not believe me, but T never see a 
labourer at the plough that I don't envy 

This was the husband of the elegant lady 
with the elaborate manners. This was the 
man who received Mountjoy with a ' Glad to 
see you, sir,' and a shake of the hand that 
hurt him. 

' Coarse fare,' said Mr. Vimpany, carving 
a big joint of beef; 'but I can't afford any- 
thing better. Only a pudding to follow, and 
a glass of glorious old sherry. Miss Henley 
is good enough to excuse it — and my wife's 
used to it — and you will put up with it, 


Mr. Mount] oy, if you are half as amiable as 
you look. I'm an old-fashioned man. The 
pleasure of a glass of wine with you, sir.' 

Hugh's first experience of the ' glorious 
old sherry ' led him to a discovery, which 
proved to be more important than he was 
disposed to consider it at the moment. He 
merely observed, with some amusement, that 
Mr. Yimpany smacked liis lips in hearty a]3- 
proval of the worst sherry that his guest had 
ever tasted. Here, plainly self-betrayed, Avas 
a medical man who was an exception to a 
general rule in the profession — here was a 
doctor ignorant of the difference between good 
wine and bad ! 

Both the ladies were anxious to know how 
Mountjoy had passed the night at the inn. 
He had only time to say that there was 
nothing to complain of, when Mr. Yimpany 
burst into an explosion of laughter. 

' Oh, but you must have had something to 


complain of ! ' said the big doctor. ' I would 
bet a hundred, if I could afford it, that the 
landlady tried to poison you with her sour 
French wine.' 

' Do you speak of the claret at the inn, 
after having tasted it?' Mountjoy asked. 

' What do you take me for ? ' cried Mr. 
Vimpany. 'After all I have heard of that 
claret, I am not fool enough to try it myself, 
I can tell you.' Mountjoy received this 
answer in silence. The doctor's ignorance 
and tlie doctor's prejudice, in the matter of 
wine, had started a new train of thought in 
Hugh's mind, which threatened serious conse- 
quences to Mr. Vimpany himself. There was 
a pause at the table ; nobody spoke. The 
doctor saw condemnation of his rudeness ex- 
pressed in his wife's face. He made a rough 
apology to Mountjoy, who was still pre- 
occupied. 'No offence, I hope? It's in the 
nature of me, sir, to speak my mind. If I 


could fawn and flatter, I should have got on 
better in my profession. I'm what they call 
a rough diamond. No offence, I say ? ' 

' None whatever, Mr. Vimpany.' 

' That's right ! Try another glass of 

Mountjoy took the sherry. 

Iris looked at him, lost in surprise. It 
was unlike Hugh to be interested in a 
stranger's opinion of wine. It was unlike 
him to drink wine which was evidently not 
to his taste. And it was especially unlike his 
customary courtesy to let himself fall into 
thought at dinner-time, when there were other 
persons at the table. Was he ill ? Impossible 
to look at him, and not see that he was in 
perfect health. What did it mean ? 

Finding Mountjoy inattentive, Mr. Vim- 
pany addressed himself to Iris. 

' I had to ride hard, Miss Henley, to get 
home in time for dinner. There are patients, 


I must tell you, who send for the doctor, and 
then seem to thmk they know more about it 
than the very man whom they have called in 
to cure them. It isn't he who tells them 
what their illness is ; it's they who tell him. 
They dispute about the medical treatment 
that's best for them, and the one thing they 
are never tired of doing is talking about their 
symptoms. It was an old man's gabble that 
kept me late to-day. However, the Squire, 
as they call him in these parts, is a patient 
with a long purse ; I am obliged to submit.' 

' A gentleman of the old school, dear Miss 
Henley,' Mrs. Vimpany explained. ' Im- 
mensely rich. Is he better .^ ' she asked, 
turning to her husband. 

' Better ? ' cried the outspoken doctor. 
' Pooh ! there's nothing the matter with him 
but gluttony. He went to London, and con- 
sulted a great man, a humbug with a handle 
to his name. The famous physician got rid 


of him in no time — sent him abroad to boil 
himself in foreign baths. He came home 
again worse than ever, and consulted poor 
Me. I found him at dinner — a perfect feast, 
I give you my word of honour ! — and the old 
fool gorging himself till he was black in the 
face. His wine, I should have said, was not 
up to the mark ; wanted body and flavour, 
you know. Ah, Mr. Mountjoy, this seems to 
interest you ; reminds you of the landlady's 
wine — eh? Well, sir, how do you think I 
treated the Squire .^ Emptied his infirm old • 
inside with an emetic — and there he was on 
his legs again! Whenever he overeats him- 
self, he sends for me ; and pays liberally. I 
ought to be grateful to him, and I am. Upon 
my soul, I believe I should be in the bank- 
'ruptcy court but for the Squire's stomach. 
Look at my wife ! She's sliocked at me. We 
ought to keep up appearances, my dear? 
Not I ! When I am poor, I say I am poor. 


When I cure a patient, I make no mystery of 
it ; everybody's welcome to know how it's 
(lone. Don't be down-hearted, Arabella ; 
nature never meant 3^our husband for a doctor, 
and there's the long and the short of it. 
Another glass of sherry, Mr. Mountjoy ? ' 

All social ceremonies — includino^ the 
curious Enghsh custom which sends the 
ladies upstairs, after dinner, and leaves the 
gentlemen at the table — found a devoted 
adherent in Mrs. Yimpany, She rose as if 
she had been presiding at a banquet, and led 
Miss Henley affectionately to the drawing- 
room. Iris glanced at Hugh. No : his mind 
was not at ease yet ; the preoccupied look 
had not left his face. 

Jovial Mr. Vimpany pushed the bottle 
across the table to his guest, and held out a 
handful of big black cigars. 

' Now for the juice of the grape,' he cried, 
* and the best cic^ar in all Endand ! ' 


He had just filled his glass, and struck a 
light for his cigar, when the servant came in 
with a note. Some men relieve their sense of 
indignation in one way, and some in another. 
The doctor's form of relief was an oath.* 
' Talk about slavery ! ' he shouted. ' Find me 
such a slave in all Africa as a man in my 
profession. There isn't an hour of the day 
or night that he can call his own. Here's 
a stupid old woman with an asthma, who has 
got another spasmodic attack — and I must 
leave my dinner-table and my friend, just as 
we are enjoying ourselves. I have half a mind 
not to go.' 

The inattentive guest suddenly set himself 
right in his host's estimation. Hugh remon- 
strated with an appearance of interest in the 
case, which the doctor interpreted as a com- 
pliment to himself: 'Oh, Mr. Vimpany, 
humanity ! humanity ! ' 

' Oh, Mr. Mount] oy, money ! money ! ' the 


facetious doctor answered. ' The old lady is 
our Mayor's mother, sir. You don't seem to 
be quick at taking a joke. Make your mind 
easy ; I shall pocket my fee.' 

As soon as he had closed the door, Hugh 
Mountjoy uttered a devout ejaculation. 
' Thank God ! ' he said — and walked up and 
down the room, free to think without inter- 
ruption at last. 

The subject of his meditations was the 
influence of intoxication, in disclosing the 
hidden weaknesses and vices of a man's 
character by exhibiting them just as they are, 
released from the restraint which he exercises 
over himself when he is sober. That there 
was a weak side, and probably a vicious side, 
in Mr. Yimpany's nature it was hardly possible 
to doubt. His blustering good liumour, his 
audacious self-conceit, the tones of his voice, 
the expression in his eyes, all revealed him 
(to use one expressive word) as a humbug. 


Let drink subtly deprive him of his capacity 
for self-concealment, and the true nature of 
his wife's association with Lord Harry might 
sooner or later show itself — say, in after- 
dinner talk, under skilful management. The 
right method of entrapping him into a state of 
intoxication (which might have presented 
serious difficulties under other circumstances) 
was suggested, partly by his ignorance of the 
difference between good wine and bad, and 
partly by Mountjoy's knowledge of the 
excellent quality of the landlady's claret. He 
had recognised, as soon as he tasted it, that 
finest vintage of Bordeaux, which conceals its 
true strength — to a gross and ignorant taste 
— under the exquisite delicacy of its flavour. 
Encourage Mr. Yimpany, by means of a dinner 
at the inn, to give his opinion as a man whose 
judgment in claret was to be seriously con- 
sulted — and permit him also to discover that 
Hugh was rich enouo^h to have been able to 


buy the wine — and the attainment of the end 
in view woidd be simply a question of time. 
There was certainly the chance to be reckoned 
with, that his thick head might prove to be 
too strong for the success of the experiment. 
Mountjoy determined to try it, and did try it 

Mr. Yimpany returned from his medical 
errand, thoroughly well satisfied with himself. 

* The Mayor's mother has reason to thank 
you, sir,' he announced. 'If you hadn't 
hurried me away, the wretched old creature 
would have been choked. A regular stand-up 
fight, by Jupiter, between death and the 
doctor ! — and the doctor has won ! Give me 
the reward of merit. Pass the bottle.' 

He took up the decanter, and looked 
at it. 

' Why, what liave you been about ? ' he 
asked. ' I made up my mind that I should 
want the key of the cellar when I came back, 

VOL. I. M 


and I don't believe you have drunk a drop in 
my absence. What does it mean ? ' 

' It means that I am not worthy of your 
sherry,' Mouritjoy answered. ' The Spanish 
wines are too strong for my weak digestion.' 

Mr. Yimpany burst into one of his explo- 
sions of laughter. ' You miss the landlady's 
vinegar — eh ? ' 

' Yes, I do ! Wait a minute, doctor ; I 
have a word to say on my side — and, like you, 
I mean what I say. The landlady's vinegar is 
some of the finest Chateau Margaux I have 
ever met with— thrown away on ignorant 
people who are quite unworthy of it.' 

The doctor's natural insolence showed 
itself. ' You have bought this wonderful 
wine, of course ? ' he said satirically. 

'That,' Mountjoy answered, ' is just what 
I have done.' 

For once in his life, Mr. Yimpany's self- 
sufficient readiness of speech failed him. He 


stared at liis guest in dumb amazement. 
On this occasion, Mountjoy improved the 
opportunity to good purpose. Mr. Vimpany 
accepted witli the utmost readiness an invita- 
tion to dine, on the next day, at the inn. But 
he made a condition. ' In case I don't agree 
with you about that Chateau — what-you-call- 
it,' he said, ' you won't mind my sending 
home for a bottle of sherry ? ' 

The next event of the day was a visit to 
the most interesting monument of antiquity 
in the town. In the absence of the doctor, 
caused by professional engagements, Miss 
Henley took Mountjoy to see the old church 
— and Mrs. Yimpany accompanied them, as a 
mark of respect to Miss Henley's friend. 

When there was a chance of being able to 
speak confidentially, Iris was eager in praising 
the doctor's wife. ' You can't imagine, Hugh, 
how agreeable she has been, and how entirely 
she has convinced me that I was wron^r, 

M 2 


shamefully wrong, in thinking of her as I did. 
She sees that you dislike her, and yet she 
speaks so nicely of you. *' Your clever friend 
enjoys your society," she said ; '• pray accom- 
pany me when I take him to see the church." 
How unselfish ! ' 

Mountjoy kept his own counsel. The 
generous impulses which sometimes led Iris 
astray were, as he well knew, beyond the 
reach of remonstrance. His own opinion 
of Mrs. Vimpany still pronounced steadily 
against her. Prepared for discoveries, on the 
next day, which might prove too serious to 
be trifled with, he now did his best to provide 
for future emergencies. 

After first satisfying himself that there 
was nothing in the present state of the maid's 
health which need detain her mistress at 
Honeybuzzard, he next completed his pre- 
parations by returning to the inn, and writing 
to Mr. Henley. With strict regard to truth, 


his letter presented the daughter's claim on 
the father under a new point of view. What- 
ever the end of it might be, Mr. Henley was 
requested to communicate his intentions by 
telegraph. ' Will you receive Iris ? ' was the 
question submitted. The answer expected 
was : ' Yes ' or ' No.' 




E. HENLEY'S telegram arrived at 
the inn the next morning. 

He was wilhng to receive his 
daughter, but not unreservedly. The mes- 
sage was characteristic of the man : ' Yes — 
on trial.' Mountjoy was not shocked, was not 
even surprised. He knew that the successful 
speculations, by means of which Mr. Henley 
had accumulated his wealth, had raised against 
him enemies, who had spread scandalous re- 
ports which had never been completely refuted. 
The silent secession of friends, in whose 
fidelity he trusted, had hardened the man's 
heart and embittered his nature. Strangers 


in distress, who appealed to the rich retired 
merchant for help, found in their excellent 
references to character the worst form of 
.persuasion that they could have adopted. 
Paupers witliout a rag of reputation left to 
cover them, were the objects of charity whom 
Mr. Henley relieved. When he was asked to 
justify his conduct, he said : ' I have a sym- 
pathy with bad characters — I am one of them 

With the arrival of the dinner-hour the 
doctor appeared, in no very amiable humour, 
at the inn. 

' Another hard da3^'s work/ he said ; ' I 
should sink under it, if I hadn't a prospect of 
getting rid of my practice here. London — or 
the neighbourhood of London — there's the 
right place for a man like Me. • Well? 
Where's the wonderful wine ? Mind ! I'm 
Tom-Tell-Truth ; if I don't like your French 
tipple, I shall say so.' 


The inn possessed no claret glasses ; they 
drank the grand wine in tumblers as if it had 
been vin ordinaire. 

Mr. Yimj)any showed that he was ac- 
quainted with the formalities proper to the 
ceremony of tasting. He filled his makeshift 
glass, he held it up to the light, and looked 
at the wine severely ; he moved the tumbler 
to and fro under his nose, and smelt at it 
again and again ; he paused and reflected ; 
he tasted the claret as cautiously as if he 
feared it might be poisoned ; he smacked his 
lips, and emptied his glass at a draught ; 
lastly, he showed some consideration for his 
host's anxiety, and pronounced sentence on 
the wine. 

'Not so good as you think it, sir. But 
nice light claret ; clean and wholesome. I 
hope you haven't given too much for it ? ' 

Thus far, Hugh had played a losing game 
patiently. His reward had come at last. 


After what the doctor had just said to him, 
he saw the winning card safe in his own 

The bad dinner was soon over. No soup, 
of course ; fish, in the state of preservation 
usually presented by a decayed country 
town ; steak that rivalled the toughness of 
india-rubber; potatoes whose aspect said, 
' Stranger, don't eat us ' ; pudding that would 
have produced a sense of discouragement, 
even in the mind of a child ; and the famous 
English cheese which comes to us, oddly 
enough, from the United States, and stings us 
vindictively when we put it into our mouths. 
But the wine, the glorious wine, would have 
made amends to anybody but Mr. Yimpany 
for the woeful deficiencies of the food. 
Tumbler-full after tumbler-full of that noble 
vintage poured down his thirsty and ignorant 
throat ; and still he persisted in declaring 
that it was nice li^ht stuff, and still he un- 


forgivingly bore in mind the badness of the 

' The feeding here,' said this candid man, 
' is worse if possible than the feeding at sea, 
when I served as doctor on board a pas- 
senger-steamer. Sliall I tell you how I lost 
my place ? Oh, say so plainly, if you don't 
think my little anecdote worth listening to ! ' 
' My dear sir, I am waiting to hear it.' 
' Very good. No offence, I hope ? That's 
right ! Well, sir, the captain of the ship 
complained of me to the owners ; I wouldn't 
go round, every morning, and knock at the 
ladies' cabin-doors, and ask how they felt 
after a sea-sick night. Who doesn't know 
what they feel without knocking at their 
doors ? Let them send for the doctor when 
they want him. That was how I understood 
my duty, and there was the line of conduct 
that lost me my place. Pass the wine. Talk- 
ing of ladies, what do you think of my wife ? 


Did you ever see such distinguished manners 
before ? My dear fellow, I have taken a 
fancy to you. Shake hands. I'll tell you 
another little anecdote. Where do you think 
my wife picked up her fashionable airs and 
graces ? Ho ! ho ! On the stage ! The 
highest branch of the profession, sir — a tragic 
actress. If you had seen her in Lady Mac- 
beth, Mrs. Yimpany would have made your 
flesh creep. Look at me, and feast your eyes 
on a man who is above hypocritical objec- 
tions to the theatre. Haven't I proved it by 
marrying an actress ? But we don't mention 
it here. The savages in this beastly place 
wouldn't employ me, if they knew I had 
married a stage-player. Hullo ! the bottle's 
empty again. Ha ! here's another bottle, full. 
I love a man who has always got a full bottle 
to offer his friend. Shake hands. I say, 
Mountjoy, tell me on your sacred word of 
honour, can you keep a secret .^ My wife's 


secret, sir ! Stop ! let me look at you again. 
I thouglit I saw you smile. If a man smiles 
at me, when I am opening my whole heart to 
him, by the living jingo, I would knock that 
man down at his own table ! What ? you 
didn't smile ? I apologise. Your hand again ; 
I drink your health in your own good wine. 
Where was I ? What was I talking about ? ' 

Mountjoy carefully humoured his interest- 
ing guest. 

' You were about to honour me,' he said, 
' by taking me into your confidence.' Mr. Vim- 
pany stared in tipsy bewilderment. Mountjoy 
tried again, in plainer language : ' You were 
going to tell me a secret.' 

This time the doctor grasped the idea. 
He looked round cunningly to the door. 
' Any eavesdroj^pers ? ' he asked. ' Hush ! 
Whisper — this is serious — whisper ! What 
was it I was going to tell you ? What was 
the secret, old boy ? ' 


Mountjoy answered a little too readily : ' I 
think it related to Mrs. Vimpany.' 

Mrs. Yimpany's husband threw himself 
back in his chair, snatched a dirty handker- 
chief out of his pocket, and began to cr}^ 

' Here's a false friend ! ' the creature whim- 
pered. ' Asks me to dinner, and takes ad- 
vantage of my dependent situation to insult 
my wife. The loveliest of women, the sweet- 
est of women, the innocentest of women. Oh, 
my wife ! my wife ! ' He suddenly threw his 
handkerchief to the other end of the room, 
and burst out laughing. ' Ho ! ho ! Mountjoy, 
what an infernal fool you must be to take 
me seriously. I can act, too. Do you think 
I care about my wife ? She was a fine woman 
once ; she's a bundle of old rags now. But 
she has her merits. Hush ! I want to know 
something. Have you got a lord among your 
circle of acquaintance.' 

Experience made Mountjoy more careful ; 


perhaps a little too careful. He only said 
' Yes.' 

The doctor's dignity asserted itself. ' That's 
a short answer, sir, to a man in my position. 
If you want me to believe you, mention your 
friend's name.' 

Here was a chance at last! 'His name,' 
Mountjoy began, ' is Lord Harry ' 

Mr. Yimpany lost his dignity in an instant. 
He struck his heavy fist on the table, with a 
blow that made tlie tumblers jump. 

' Coincidence ! ' he cried. ' How wonder- 
ful — no ; that's not the word — providential is 
the word — how providential are coincidences! 
I mean, of course, to a rightly constituted 
mind. Let nobody contradict me ! When I 
say a rightly constituted mind, I speak 
seriously ; and a young man like you will be 
all the better for it. Mountjoy ! dear Mount- 
joy ! jolly Mountjoy ! my wife's lord is your 
lord — Lord Harry. No ; none of your non- 


sense — I won't have any more wine. Yes, I 
will ! It miglit hurt your feelings if I didn't 
drink with you. Pass the bottle. Ha ! 
That's a nice ring you've got on your finger. 
Perhaps you tliink it valuable ? It's nothing, 
sir ;.it's dross, it's dirt, compared to my wife's 
dig-mond pin ! There's a jewel, if you like ! 
It will be worth a fortune to us when we sell 
it. A gift, dear sir. I'm afraid I've been too 
familiar with you. Speaking as a born gen- 
tleman, I beg to present my respects, and I 
call you " dear sir." Did I tell you the 
diamond pin was a gift ? It's nothing of the 
sort ; we are under no obligation ; my wife, 
my admirable wife, has earned that diamond 
pin. By registered post ; and wliat I call a 
manly letter from Lord Harry. He is deeply 
obliged (I give you the sense of it) by what 
my wife has done for him ; ready-money is 
scarce with my lord ; he sends a family jewel, 
with his love. Oh, I'm not jealous. He's 


welcome to love Mrs. Vimpany, in her old 
age, if he likes. Did you say that, sir ? Did 
you say that Lord Harry, or any man, was 
welcome to love Mrs. Vimpany? I have a 
great mind to throw this bottle at your head. 
No, I won't ; it's wasting good wine. How kind 
of you to give me good wine! Who are you? 
I don't like dining with a stranger. Do you 
know any friend of mine ? Do you know a 
man named Mountjoy ? Do you know two 
men named Mountjoy? No : you don't. One 
of them is dead ; killed by those murdering 
scoundrels — what do you call them? Eh, 
what?' The doctor's voice began to falter, 
his head dropped ; he slumbered suddenly 
and woke suddenly, and began talking 
again suddenly. 'Would you like to be 
made acquainted with Lord Harry ? I'll give 
you a sketch of his character before I intro- 
duce him. Between ourselves, he's a desperate 
wretch. Do you know why he employed my 


wife, m^ admirable wife ? You will agree 
with me ; he ought to have looked after his 
young woman himself. We've got his young- 
woman safe in our house. A nice girl. Not 
my style ; my medical knowledge certifies 
she's cold-blooded. Lord Harry has only to 
come over here, and find her. Why the 
devil doesn't he come ? What is it keeps him 
in Ireland ? Do you know? I seem to have 
forgotten. My own belief is I've got soften- 
ing of the brain. What's good for softening 
of the brahi ? There isn't a doctor living who 
won't tell you the right remedy — wine. Pass 
the wine. If this claret is worth a farthinsr, 
it's worth a guinea a bottle. I ask you in 
confidence ; did you ever hear of such a fool 
as my wife's lord.^ His name escapes me. 
No matter ; he stops in Ireland — hunting. 
HuntinfT what ? The fox ? Nothino; so 
noble ; hunting assassins. He's got some 
grudge against one of them. Means to kill 

VOL. I. N 


one of them. A word in your ear ; they'll 
kill liim. Do you ever bet ? Five to one, 
he's a dead man before the end of the week. 
When is the end of the week ? Tuesday, 
Wednesday — no, Saturday — that's the begin- 
ning of the week — no, it isn't — the beginning 
of tlie week isn't the Sabbath — Sunday, of 
course — we are not Christians, we are Jews — 
I mean we are Jews, we are not Christians — 
I mean ' 

The claret got the better of his tongue at 
last. He mumbled and muttered ; he sank 
back in his chair ; he chuckled ; he hiccup- 
ped ; he fell asleejD. 

All and more than all that Mountjoy 
feared, he had now discovered. In a state of 
sobriety, the doctor was probably one of those 
men who are always ready to lie. In a state 
of intoxication, the utterances of his drunken 
delirium might unconsciously betray the 
truth. The reason which he had aiven for 


Lord Harry's continued absence in Ireland 
could not be wisely rejected as unworthy of 
belief. It was in the reckless nature of the 
wild lord to put his own life in peril, in the 
hope of revenging Arthur Mount] oy on the 
wretch who had- killed him. Taking this bad 
news for granted, was there any need to dis- 
tress Iris by communicating the motive wliich 
detained Lord Harry in his own country ? 
Surely not ! 

And, again, was there any immediate 
advantage to be gained by revealing the true 
character of Mrs. Yimpany, as a spy, and 
worse still a spy who was paid? In her 
present state of feehng Iris would, in all pro- 
bability, refuse to believe it. 

Arriving at these conclusions, Hugh looked 
at the doctor snoring and choking in an easy- 
chair. He had not wasted the time and 
patience, devoted to the stratagem which had 
now successfully reached its end. After what 


he had just heard — thanks to the claret — he 
could not hesitate to accomplish the speedy 
removal of Iris from Mr. Vimpany's house ; 
using her father's telegram as the only means 
of persuasion on which it was possible to rely. 
Mountjoy left the inn without ceremony, and 
hurried away to Iris in the hope of inducing 
her to return to London with him that night. 




SKING for Miss 
Henley at the 
doctor's door, 
Hucfli was in- 
formed tliat she 
had gone out, 
with her invahd 
maid, for a walk. 
if Mr. Moimtjoy 
called in her absence, to beg that he would 
kindly wait for her return. 

On his way up to the drawing-room, 
Mountjoy heard Mrs. Yimpany's sonorous 


voice occupied, as he supposed, in reading 
aloud. The door being opened for him, he 
surprised lier, striding up and down the room 
with a book in her hand ; grandly declaiming 
without anybody to applaud her. After what 
Hugh had already heard, he could only 
conclude that reminiscences of her theatrical 
career had tempted the solitary actress to 
make a private appearance, for her own 
pleasure, in one of those tragic characters 
to which her husband had alluded. She 
recovered her self-possession on Mountjoy's 
appearance, with the ease of a mistress of her 
art. 'Pardon me,' she said, holding up her 
book with one hand, and tapping it indica- 
tively wdth the other ; ' Shakespeare carries 
me out of mj^self. A spark of the j^oet's fire 
burns in the poet's humble servant. May I 
hope that I have made myself understood ? 
You look as if you had a fellow-feeling for 


Mountjoy did his best to fill tlie sympa- 
thetic part assigned to him, and only suc- 
ceeded in showing what a bad actor he would 
have been, if he had gone on the stage; 
Under the sedative influence thus adminis- 
tered, Mrs. Vimpany put away her book, and 
descended at once from the highest poetry to 
the lowest prose. 

'Let us return to domestic events,' she 
said indulgently. ' Have the people at the 
inn given you a good dinner .^ ' 

' The people did their best,' Mountjoy 
answered cautiously. 

' Has my husband returned with you ? ' 
Mrs. Vimpany went on. 

Mountjoy began to regret that he had not 
waited for Iris in the street. He was obliijed 
to acknowledge that the doctor had not 
returned Avith him. 

' Where is Mr. Yimjoany ? ' 

' At the inn.' 


' What is he doing there P ' 

Mountjoy hesitated. Mrs. Yimpany rose 
again into the regions of tragic poetry. She 
stepped up to him, as if he had been Macbeth, 
and she was ready to use the daggers. '1 
understand but too well,' she declared, in 
terrible tones. 'My wretched husband's vices 
are known to me. Mr. Vimpany is intoxi- 

Hugh tried to make the best of it. ' Only 
asleep,' he said. Mrs. Vimpany looked at 
him once more. This time, it Avas Queen 
Katharine looking at Cardinal Wolsey. She 
bowed with lofty courtesy, and opened the 
door. ' I have occasion,' she said, ' to go 
out ' and made an exit. 

Five minutes later, Mountjoy (standing at 
the window, impatiently on the watch for the 
return of Iris) saw Mrs. Vimpany in the street. 
She entered a chemist's shop, on tlie opposite 
side of the way, and came out again with a 


bottle in her hand. It was enclosed in the 
customary medical wrapping of white paper. 
Majestically, she passed out of sight. If Hugh 
had followed her, he would have traced the 
doctor's wife to the door of the inn. 

The unemployed waiter was on the house- 
steps, looking about him — with nothing to 
see. He made his bow to Mrs. Vimpany, and 
informed her that the landlady had gone out. 

' You will do as well,' was the reply. ' Is 
Mr. Yimpany here ? ' 

The waiter smiled, and led the way through 
the passage to tlie foot of the stairs. 'You 
can hear him, ma'am.' It was quite true ; 
Mr. Yimpany 's snoring answered for Mr. 
Yimpany. His wife ascended the first two or 
three stairs, and stopped to sj^eak again to the 
waiter. She asked what the two gentlemen 
had taken to drink with their dinner. They 
had taken ' the French wine.' 

' And nothing else ? ' 


The waiter ventured on a little joke. 
'Nothing else,' he said — 'and more than 
enough of it, too.' 

' Not more than enough, I suppose, for 
the good of the house,' Mrs. Vimpany re- 

' I beg your pardon, ma'am ; the claret 
the two gentlemen drank is not charged for in 
the bill.' 

' What do you mean ? ' 

The waiter explained that Mr. Mountjoy 
had purchased the whole stock of the wine. 
Suspicion, as well as surprise, appeared in 
Mrs. Yimpany's face. She had hitherto 
thought it likely that Miss Henley's gentleman- 
like friend might be secretly in love with the 
young lady. Her doubts of him, now, took a 
wider range of distrust. She went on up the 
stairs by herself, and banged the door of the 
private room as the easiest means of waking 
the sleeping man. To the utmost noise that 


she could make in this way, he was perfectly 
impenetrable. For a while -she waited, look- 
ing at him across the table with unutterable 

There was the man to whom the religion 
of the land and the law of the land, acting 
together in perfect harmony, had fettered her 
for life ! Some women, in her position, might 
have wasted time in useless self-reproach. 
Mrs. Yimpany reviewed her miserable married 
life with the finest mockery of her own 
misfortune. ' Virtue,' she said to herself, 
' is its own reward.' # 

Glancing with careless curiosity at the 
disorder of the dinner-table, she noticed some 
wine still left in the bottom of her husband's 
glass. Had artificial means been used to 
reduce him to his. present condition ? She 
tasted the claret. No : there was nothinjy in 
the flavour of it which betrayed that he had 
been dru(?£?ed. If the waiter was to be 


believed, he had only drunk claret — and there 
he was, in a state of helpless stupefaction, 

She looked again at the dinner-table, and 
discovered one among the many empty 
bottles, with some wine still left in it. After 
a moment of reflection, she took a clean 
tumbler from the sideboard. 

Here was the wine which had been an 
object of derision to Mr. Yimpany and his 
friends. They were gross feeders and 
drinkers ; and it might not be amiss to put 
their opinions to the test. She was not 
searching for the taste of a drug now ; her 
present experiment proposed to try the wine 
on its own merits. 

At the time of her triumphs on the 
country stage — before the date of her 
unlucky marriage — rich admirers had enter- 
tained the handsome actress at suppers, which 
offered every luxury that the most perfect 


table could supply. Experience had made 
her acquainted with the flavour of the finest 
claret — and that experience was renewed by 
the claret which she was now tasting. It was 
easy to understand why Mr. Mountjoy had 
purchased the wine ; and, after a little think- 
ing, his motive for inviting Mr. Vimpany to 
dinner seemed to be equally plain. Foiled in 
their first attempt at discovery by her own 
prudence and tact, his suspicions had set their 
trap. Her gross husband had been tempted 
to drink, and to talk at random (for Mr. 
Mountjoy's benefit) in a state of intoxication ! 

What secrets might the helpless wretch not 
have betrayed, before the wine had completely 
stupefied him ? 

Urged by rage and fear, she shook him 
furiously. He woke ; he glared at her with 
bloodshot eyes ; he threatened Jier with his 
clenched fist. There was but one way of hft- 
ing his purbhnd stupidity to the light. She 


appealed to his experience of himself, on many 
a former occasion : ' You fool, you have been 
drinking again — and there's a patient waiting 
for you.' To that dilemma he was accus- 
tomed ; the statement of it partially roused 
him. Mrs. Yimpany tore off the paper wrap- 
ping, and opened the medicine-bottle which 
she had brought with her. 

He stared at it ; he muttered to himself: 
' Is she going to poison me ? ' She seized his 
head with one hand, and held the open bottle 
to his nose. ' Your own prescription/ she 
cried, ' for yourself and your hateful friends.' 

His nose told him what words midit have 
tried vainly to say ; he swallowed the mixture. 
' If I lose the patient,' he muttered oracularly, 
' I lose the money.' His resolute wife dragged 
him out of his chair. The second door in the 
dining-room led into an empty bed-chamber. 
With her help, he got into the room, and 
dropped on the bed. 


Mrs. Vimpany consulted her watch. 

On many a former occasion she had learnt 
what interval of repose, was required, before 
the sobering influence of the mixture could suc- 
cessfully assert itself. For the present, she had 
only to return to the other room. The waiter 
presented himself, asking if there was anything 
he could do for her. Familiar with the defec- 
tive side of her husband's character, he under- 
stood what it meant when she pointed to the 
bedroom door. 'The old story, ma'am,' he 
said, with an air of respectful sympathy. 
' Can 1 get you a cup of tea ? ' 

Mrs. Vimpany accepted the tea, and 
enjoyed it thoughtfully. 

She had two objects in view — to be 
revenged on Mountjoy, and to find a way of 
forcing him to leave tlie town before he could 
communicate his discoveries to Iris. How to 
reach these separate ends, by one and the 
same means, was still the problem which she 


was trying to solve, when the doctor's coarse 
voice was audible calling for somebody to 
come to him. 

If his head was only clear enough, by this 
time, to understand the questions which she 
meant to put, his answers might suggest 
the idea of which she was in search. Eisino^ 
with alacrity, Mrs. Vimpany returned to the 

' You miserable creature,' she began, ' are 
you sober now ? ' 

' I'm as sober as you are.' 

' Do you know,' she went on, ' why Mr. 
Mountjoy asked you to dine with him ? ' 

' Because he's my friend.' 

' He is your worst enemy. Hold your 
tongue ! I'll explain what I mean directly. 
Eouse your memory, if you have got a memory 
left. I want to know what you and Mr. 
Mountjoy talked about, after dinner.' 

He stared at her helplessly. She tried to 


liiid lior Avay to liis recollection by making 
suggestive inquiries. It was useless ; he 
only complained of being thirsty. His wife 
lost her self-control. She was too furiously 
angry with him to be able to remain in the 
room, liecovering her composure when she 
was alone, she sent for soda-water and brandy. 
Her one chance of makini? him useful was to 
humour his vile temper ; she waited on him 

In some degjree the drink cleared his 
muddled head. Mrs. Yimpany tried his 
memory once more. Had he said this ? Had 
he said that? Yes: he thouglit it likely. 
Had he, or had Mr. Mountjoy, mentioned 
Lord Harry's name ? A glimmer of intelli- 
gence showed itself in his stupid eyes. Yes 
— and they had quarrelled about it : he rather 
thouglit he had thrown a bottle at Mr. 
Mountjoy's head. Had they, either of them, 
said anything about Miss Henley ? Oh, of 

VOL 1. o 


course! What was it? He was unable to 
remember. Had liis wife done bothering 
him, now ? 

' Not quite,' she rephed. ' Try to under- 
stand what I am going to say to you. If 
Lord Harry comes to us, while Miss Henley is 
in our house ' 

He interrupted her : ' That's your business.' 

' Wait a little. It's my business, if I liear 
beforehand that his lordship is coming. But 
he is quite reckless enough to take us by 
surprise. In that case, I want you to make 
yourself useful. If you happen to be at home, 
keep him from seeing Miss Henley, until I 
have seen lier first.' 

* Why ? ' 

'I want an opportunity, my dear, of telling 
Miss Henley that I have been wicked enough 
to deceive her, before slie fnids it out for 
herself. I may hope she will forgive me, if I 
confess every tiling.' 


The doctor laughed : ' What the devil 
does it matter whether she forgives 3^011 or 
not ? ' 

' It matters a great deal.' 

' Why, you talk as if you were fond of 
her ! ' 

' I am.' 

The doctor's clouded intelHgence was 
beginning to clear ; he made a smart reply : 
' Fond of her, and deceiving her — aha ! ' 

' Yes,' she said quietly, ' that's just what 
it is. It has grown on me, httle by httle ; I 
can't help liking Miss Henley.' 

' Well,' Mr. Vimpany remarked, ' you are 
a fool ! ' He looked at her cunningly. 
* Suppose I do make myself useful, what am I 
to gain by it ? ' 

' Let us get back,' she suggested, ' to the 
gentleman who invited you to dinner, and 
made you tipsy for his own purposes.' 

* I'll break every bone in his skin ! ' 


' Don't talk nonsense ! Leave Mr. Mount- 
joy to me.' 

' Do you take his part ? I can tell you 
this. If I drank too much of tliat poisonous 
French stuff, Mountjoy set me the example. 
He Avas tipsy — as you call it — shamefully 
tipsy, I give you my word of honour. What's 
the matter now ? ' 

His wife (so impenetrably cool, thus far) 
had suddenly become excited. There was not 
the smallest fragment of truth in what lie had 
just said of Hugh, and Mrs. Yimpany was not 
for a moment deceived by it. But the lie 
had, accidentally, one merit — it suggested to 
her the idea which she liad vainly tried to 
iind, over her cup of tea. ' Suppose I shoAV 
you how you may be revenged on Mr. 
Mountjoy,' slie said. 


'Will you remember what I asked you to 

'Xozu,' she said, taking a chair iy the I'cdsidc, 'yon shall k7iow zvhat a clcz'er zvifc you have got .' 


do for me, if Lord Harry takes us by sur- 
prise ? ' 

He produced his pocket-diary, and told 
her to make a memorandum of it. She wrote 
as briefly as if she liad been writing a 
telegram : ' Keep Lord Harry from seeing 
Miss Henley, till I have seen her first.' 

' Now,' she said, taking a chair by the 
bedside, ' you shall know what a clever wife 
you have got. Listen to me.' 



HER father's ME>SSAGE 

'OOKING out of the drawing-room 
window, for the tenth time at 
least, Mountjoy at last saw^ Iris in 
the street, returning to the house. 

She brought the maid with her into tlie 
drawing-room, in the gayest of good spirits, 
and presented Ehoda to Mountjoy. 

' What a blessing a good long walk is, if 
we only knew it ! ' she exclaimed. ' Look at 
my little maid's colour ! Who would suppose 
that she came here with heavy eyes and pale 
cheeks.^ Except tliat she loses her way in 
the town, whenever she goes out alone, we 
liave every reason to congratulate ourselves 


on our residence at Honey buzzard. The 
doctor is Elioda's good genius, and the doctor's 
wife is her fairy godmother.' 

Mountjoy's courtesy having offered tlie 
customary congratulations, the maid was per- 
mitted to retire; and Iris was free to express 
her astonishment at the friendly relations 
established (by means of the dinner- table) 
between the two most dissimilar men on tlie 
face of creation. 

' Til ere is something overwhelming,' she 
declared, ' in the bare idea of your having 
asked him to dine with you — on such a short 
acquaintance, and lacing such a man ! I should 
like to have peeped in, and seen you enter- 
taining your guest with the luxuries of tlie 
hotel larder. Seriously, Hugh, your social 
sympathies have taken a range for which I 
was not prepared. After the example that 
you have set me, I feel ashamed of Iiaving 
doubted ^xhether Mr. Vimixnny was worthy 


of his charming wife. Don't suppose that I 
am ungrateful to the doctor ! He has found 
his way to my regard, after what he has done 
for Ehoda. I only fail to understand how he 
has possessed himself of your sympathies.' 

So she ran on, enjoying tlie exercise oi 
her own sense of humour in innocent igno- 
rance of the serious interests wliicli she was 

Mountjoy tried to stop her, and tried in 

'No, no,' she persisted as mischievously 
as ever, ' the subject is too interesting to be 
dismissed. I am dying to know how you and 
your guest got through tlie dinner. Did he 
take more wine than was good for him ? And 
when he forgot his good inanners, did he set 
it all riglit again by saying, " Xo offence," and 
passing the bottle ? ' 

Hugh could endure it no longer. ' Pray 
control your higli spirits for a moment,' 


lie said. ' I liavc news fur you from 

Those words put an end to her outbreak 
of gaiety in an instant. 

' News from my father ? ' she asked. 


' Is he comini]: here ? ' 

'No ; I have heard from him.' 

' A letter ? ' 

'A telegram,' Mountjoy explained, 'in 
answer to a letter from me. I did my best 
to press your claims on liim, and I am glad 
to say I have not failed.' 

' Hugh, dear Hugh ! have you succeeded 
in reconciling us ? ' 

Mountjoy produced the telegram. ' I 
asked Mr. Henley,' he said, ' to let me know 
at once whether he would receive you, and 
to answer plainly Yes or Xo. The message 
might have been more kindly expressed — 
but, at any rate, it is a favourable reply.' 


Iris read the telegram. ' Is there another 
father in the world,' she said sadly, ' who 
would tell his daughter, when she asks to come 
liome, that he will receive her on trial ? ' 

' Surely, you are not offended with him. 
Iris ? ' 

She shook her head. ' I am like you,' 
she said. ' I know him too well to be offended. 
He shall find me dutiful, he shall find me 
patient. I am afraid I must not expect you 
to wait for me in Honeybuzzard. Will you 
tell my father that I hope to return to him in 
a week's time ? ' 

' Pardon me, Iris, I see no reason wliy you 
should waste a week in this town. On the 
contrary, the more eager you show j^ourself to 
return to your father, the more Hkely you are 
to recover your place in liis estimation. I 
had planned to take you home by the next 

Iris looked at him in astonishment. ' Is it 


possible that you mean what you sayP' slie 

' My dear, I do most assuredly mean what 
I say. Why should you hesitate? What 
possible reason can there be for staying here 
any longer ? ' 

' Oh, Hugh, liow you disappoint me ! 
What has become of your kind feeling, your 
sense of justice, your consideration for others? 
Poor Mrs. Vimpany ! ' 

' What has Mrs. Vimpany to do with it ? ' 

Iris was indignant. 

' What has Mrs. Vimpany to do with it ? ' 
she repeated. ' After all that I owe to that 
good creature's kindness ; after I have pro- 
mised to accompany her— she has so few 
happy days, poor soul ! — on excursions to 
places of interest in the ncighbourliood, do 
you expect me to leave her — no ! it's worse 
than that — do you expect me to throw her 
aside like an old dress tliat I have worn out ? 


And tliis after I have so unjustly, so ungrate- 
fully suspected her in my own thoughts? 
Shameful ! shameful ! ' 

Witli some difficulty, Mountjoy controlled 
himself. After what she had just said, his 
lips were sealed on the subject of Mrs. 
Yimpany's true character. He could only 
persist in appealing to her duty to her 

' You are allowing your quick temper to 
carry you to strange extremities,' he answered. 
' If I think it of more importance to hasten a 
reconciliation with your father than to en- 
courage you to make excursions with a lady 
whom you have only known for a week or 
two, what have I done to deserve such an out- 
break of vca^QY ? Hush ! Not a word more 
now ! Here is the lady herself.' 

As he spoke, Mrs. Yimpany joined tliem ; 
rcturnhig from her interview with her 
liusband at tlie inn. She looked first at Iris, 


and at once perceived signs of disturbance in 
the young lady's face. 

Concealing her anxiety under tliat wonder- 
ful sta<xe smile, wliich aflbrds a refug-e to so 
many secrets, Mrs. Vimpany said a few words 
excusing her absence. Miss Henley answered, 
without the slightest change in her friendly 
manner to the doctor's wife. The signs of 
disturbance were evidently attributable to 
some entirely unimportant cause from Mrs. 
Yimpany's point of view. Mr. Mountjoy's 
discoveries had not been communicated yet. 

In Hugh's state of mind, there was some 
irritating influence in tlie presence of the 
mistress of the house, which applied the spur 
to liis wits. He miscliievously proposed sub- 
mitting to her tlie question in dispute between 
Iris and liimself. 

' It is a very simple matter,' he said to 
Mrs. Vimpany. ' Miss Henley's father is 
anxious that she should return to him, after 


an estrangement between them which is hap- 
pily at an end. Do you think she ought to 
allow any accidental engagements to prevent 
her from going home at once ? If she requests 
your indulgence, under the circumstances, 
has she any reason to anticipate a refusal ? ' 

Mrs. Yimpany's expressive eyes looked up, 
with saintly resignation, at the dirty ceiling 
— and asked in dumb show Avhat she had 
done to deserve the injury implied by a 
doubt ! 

' Mr. Mountjoy,' she said sternly, ' you 
insult me by asking the question. Dear Miss 
Henley,' she continued, turning to Iris, ' you 
will do me justice, I am sure. Am I capable of 
allowing my own feelings to stand in the way, 
when your filial duty is concerned ? Leave 
me, my sweet friend. Go ! I entreat you, go 
home ! ' 

She retired up the stage — no, no ; she 
withdrew to the otlier end of the room — and 


burst into the most becoming of all human 
tears, theatrical tears. Impulsive Iris hastened 
to comfort the personification of self-sacrifice, 
the model of all that was most unselfish in 
female submission. ' For shame ! for shame ! ' 
she whispered, as she passed Mountjoy. 

Beaten again by Mrs. Vimpany — with no 
ties of relationship to justify resistance to Miss 
Henley ; with two women against him, en- 
trenched behind the privileges of their sex 
— the one last sacrifice of his own feelings, in 
the interests of Iris, that Hugh could make 
was to control the impulse wdiich naturally 
urged him to leave the house. In the help- 
less position in which he had now placed him- 
self, he could only wait to see what course 
Mrs. Yimpany might think it desirable to 
take. Would she request him, in her most 
politely malicious way, to bring his visit to an 
end? No: she looked at him — hesitated — 
directed a furtive glance towards the view of 


the street from the Avindow — smiled mysteri- 
ously — and completed ilie sacrifice of her 
own feelim^s in tliese words : 

'Dear Miss Ilenley, let me lielp yon to 
pack np.' 

Iris positively refused. 

' No,' slie said, ' I don't agree with Mr. 
Mountjoy. My father leaves it to me to name 
the day when w^e meet. Iliold you, my dear, 
to our euG^ao^ement — I don't leave an affection- 
ate friend as I mi<2;ht leave a stranger.' 

Even if Mr. Mountjoy communicated his 
discoveries to Miss Henley, on the way home, 
there Avould be no danger now of her 
believing him. Mrs. Yim2:)any put her 
power fid arm round the generous Iris, and, 
with inlinite grace, thanked lier by a kiss. 

' Your kindness will make iny lonely lot in 
life harder than ever to bear,' she murmured, 
' when you are gone.' 

' But w^e may liope to meet in London,' 


Iris reminded her, ' unless Mr. Vimpany alters 
his mind about leaving this place.' 

' My husband will not do that, dear. He 
is determined to try his luck, as he says, in 
London. In tlie meantime you will give me 
your address, won't you ? Perhaps you will 
even promise to write to me ? ' 

Iris instantly gave her promise, and ^vrote 
down her address in London. 

Mountjoy made no attempt to interfere : 
it was needless. 

If the maid had not fallen ill on the 
journey, and if Mrs. Yimpany had followed 
Miss Henley to London, there would have 
been little to fear in the discovery of her 
address — and there was little to fear now. 
The danger to Iris was not in what might 
happen while she was living under her father's 
roof, but in what might happen if she was 
detained (by plans for excursions) in Mr. 

VOL. I. p 


Yimpany's house, until Lord Harry might join 
her there. 

Eather than permit tliis to happen, Hugh 
(in sheer desperation) meclitatcd charging Mrs. 
Vimpany, to her face, with being the Irish 
lord's spy, and proving tlie accusation by 
challenging her to produce the registered 
letter and the diamond pin. 

While he was still struggling with his owni 
reluctance to inflict this degrading exposure 
on a woman, the talk between the two ladies 
came to an end. Mrs. Vimpany returned 
again to the wdndow. On this occasion, she 
looked out into the street — with her handker- 
chief (was it used as a signal ?) exhibited in 
her liand. Iris, on her side, advanced to 
Mountjoy. Easily moved to anger, lier 
nature was incapable of sullen perseverance 
in a state of enmit3^ To see Hugh si ill 
patiently waiting — still risking the chances of 
insult — devoted to lier, and foroivinir her — was 


at once a reproach that punished Iris, and a 
mute appeal that no true woman's lieart could 

With tears in her eyes, she said to him : 
' There must be no coolness between you and 
me. I lost my temper, and spoke shamefully 
to you. My dear, I am indeed sorry for it. 
You are never hard on me — you won't be 
hard on me now ? ' 

She offered her hand to him. He had 
just raised it to his lips — when tlie drawing- 
room door was roughly opened. They both 
looked round. 

The man of all others whom Hugli least 
desired to see was the man who now entered 
the room. The victim of ' light claret ' — 
privately directed to lurk in the street, until 
he saw a handkerchief fluttering at the window 
— had returned to the house ; primed with his 
clever wife's instructions ; read}^ and eager to 
be even with Mountjoy for tlie dinner at the inn. 

r 1 




'HEEE was no unsteadiness in the 
doctor's walk, and no flush on 
]iis face. He certainly did strut 
Avhen he entered the room ; and he held up 
his head with dignity, when he discovered 
Mountjoy. But he seemed to preserve his 
self-control. Was the man sober again al- 
ready ? 

His wife approached him with her set 
smile ; the appearance of her lord and master 
filled Mrs. Yimpany with perfectlj-assumed 
emotions of agreeable surprise. 

' This is an unexpected pleasure,' she said. 
' You seldom favour us Avith your company, 


my clear, so early in tlie evening. Are there 
fewer patients in want of your advice than 
usual ? ' 

' You are mistaken, Arabella. I am here 
in the performance of a painful clut3\' 

The doctor's language, and the doctor's 
manner, presented him to Iris in a character 
that was new to her. What effect had he 
produced on Mrs. Almpany? That excellent 
friend to travellers in distress lowered her 
eyes to tlie floor, and modestly preserved 
silence. Mr. Yimpany proceeded to the per- 
formance of his duty ; his painful responsi- 
bility seemed to strike him at first from a 
medical point of view. 

' If there is a poison whicli undermines the 
sources of life,' he remarked, 'it is alcohol. 
If there is a vice that deirrades humanitv, it is 
intoxication. Mr. Mountjoy, are you aware 
that I am looking at you P ' 

' Impossible not to be aware of that,' 


Hui^li answered. ' May I ask wliv you are 
looking at me ? ' It was not eas}^ to listen 
gravely to Mr. Yimpany's denunciation of in- 
temperance, after what had taken place at 
the dinner of that day. Hugh smiled. The 
moral majesty of the doctor entered its 

'This is really shameful,' he said. 'The 
least you can do is to take it seriously.' 

'What is it?' Mountjoy asked. 'And 
why am I to take it seriously ? ' 

Mr. Yimpany's reply was, to say the least 
of it, indirect. If such an expression may be 
permitted, it smelt of the stage. Yiewed in 
connection with Mrs. Yimpany's persistent 
assumption of silent humility, it suggested to 
Mountjoy a secret understanding, of some 
kind, between husband and wife. 

'What has become of j^our conscience, 
sir ? ' Mr. Yimpany demanded. ' Is that silent 
monitor dead within you ? After giving me a 


bad dinner, do you demand an explanation ? 
Ha ! you shall have it.' 

Having delivered himself to this effect, 
he added action to words. Walking grandly 
to the door, he threw it open, and saluted 
Mountjoy with an ironical bow. Iris ob- 
served that act of insolence ; her colour 
rose, her eyes glittered. 'Do you see what 
he has just done ? ' she said to Mrs. Yim- 

The doctor's wife answered softly: 'I don't 
understand it.' After a glance at her husband, 
she took Iris by the hand: 'Dear Miss Henley, 
shall we retire to my room ? ' 

Iris drew her hand away. ' Not iniless 
Mr. Mountjoy wishes it,' she said. 

' Certainly not ! ' Hugh declared. ' Pray 
remain here ; your presence will help me to 
keep my temper.' He stepped up to Mr. 
Yimpany. ' Have you any particular reason 
for opening that door ? ' he asked. 


The doctor was a rascal ; but, to do liiin 
justice, lie was uo coward. 'Yes/ he said, 
'I liave a reasou.' 

' What is it, if you please ? ' 

* Christian forbearance,' Mr. Yimpany 

'Forbearance towards me?' Mountjoy 

The doctor's dignity suddenly deserted 
him . 

' Aha, my boy, you have got it at last ! ' 
he cried. 'It's pleasant to understand each 
other, isn't it ? You see, I'm a plain-spoken 
fellow ; I don't wish to give offence. If there's 
one thing more than another I pride myself 
on, it's my indulgence for human frailty. 
But, in my position here, I'm obliged to 
be careful. Upon my soul, I can't con- 
tinue my acquaintance with a man who — 
oh, come I come ! don't look as if you didn't 
understand me. The circumstances are 


against you, sir. You have treated me in- 

' Under what circumstances have I treated 
you infamously?' Hugh asked. 

' Under pretence of giving me a dinner,' 
Mr. Vimpany shouted — ' the worst dinner I 
ever sat down to ! ' 

His wife signed to him to be silent. He 
took no notice of her. She insisted on being 
understood. ' Say no more ! ' she warned 
him, in a tone of command. 

The brute side of his nature, roused by 
Mountjoy's contemptuous composure, was 
forcing its way outwards ; he set his wife at 

' Then don't let him look at me as if lie 
thought I was in a state of intoxication ! ' cried 
tlie furious doctor. ' Tliere's the man. Miss, 
who tried to make me tipsy,' lie went on, 
actually addressing himself to Iris. 'Thanks 
to my habits of sobriety, he has been caught 


ill his own trap. lies intoxicated. Ha, 
friend Moiintjoy, liave you got tlie right 
explanation at last ? There's tlie door, 
sir ! ' 

Mrs. Vimpany felt that this outrage was 
beyond endurance. If something Avas not 
done to atone for it, Miss Henley Avould be 
capable — her face, at that moment, answered 
for her — of leaving the house wdtli Mr. Mount- 
joy. Mrs. Vimpany seized her husband in- 
dignantly by the arm. 

' You brute, you have spoilt everything ! ' 
she said to him. ' Apologise directly to Mr. 
Mountjoy. You w^on't ? ' 

' I won't I ' 

Experience had taught his wdfe Iioav to 
break liini to her AvilL ' Do you remember 
my diamond pin? ' she whispered. 

He looked startled. Perhaps he thought 
she had lost the pin. 

' Where is it ? ' lie asked eagerly. 


' Gone to London to be valued. Beg Mr. 
Mountjoy's pardon, or I will put the money in 
the bank — and not one shilling of it do you 

In the meanwhile, Iris had justified Mrs. 
Vimpany's apprehensions. Her indignation 
noticed nothing but the insult offered to 
Hugh. She was too seriously agitated to 
be able to speak to him. Still admir- 
ably calm, his one anxiety was to compose 

'Don't be afraid,' he said; 'it is impossible 
that I can degrade myself by quarrelling with 
Mr. Yimpany. I only wait liere to know 
what you propose to do. You have Mrs. 
Yimpany to think of.' 

' I have nobody to think of but You,' Iris 
replied. ' But for me, j^ou would never have 
been in this house. After tlie insult that has 
been offered to you — oh, Hugh, I feel it too! 
— let us return to London together. I have 


only to tell Ehoda we are going away, and to 
make my preparations for travelling. Send 
for me from the inn, and 1 will be ready in 
time for tlie next train.' 

Mrs. Vimpany approached Moimtjoy, 
leading her husband. 

' Sorry I have offended you,' the doctor 
said. ' Beg your pardon. It's only a joke. 
No offence, I hope ? ' 

His servility was less endurable than his 
insolence. Telhng him that he need say no 
more, Monntjoy bowed to Mrs. Yimpany, and 
left the room. She returned his bow me- 
chanically, in silence. Mr. Vimpany followed 
Hugh out — thinking of the diamond pin, and 
eager to open the house door, as another 
act of submission Avhich might satisfy his 

Even a clever woman Avill occasionally 
make mistakes ; especially when her temper 
happens to have been roused. Mrs. Yimpany 


found herself in a false position, due entirely 
to her own imprudence. 

She had been guilty of three serious 
errors. In the first place, she Iiad taken it 
I'or granted that Mr. Yimpany's restorative 
mixture would completely revive the sober 
state of his brains. In the second place, she 
had trusted him Avitli her vengeance on the 
man who had found his way to her secrets 
through her husband's intemperance. In the 
third place, she had rashly assumed that the 
doctor, in carrying out her instructions for 
insulting Mountjoy, would keep within the 
limits whicli she had prescribed to him, when 
she hit on the audacious idea of attributing 
his disgraceful conduct to the temptation 
offered by his host's example. As a conse- 
quence of these acts of imprudence, she had 
exposed herself to a misfortune that she 
iionestly dreaded — the loss of the place which 
she had carefully maintained in Miss Henley's 


estimation. In the contradictory confusion of 
feelings, so often found in women, this deceit- 
ful and dangerous creature had been con- 
quered — little by little, as she had herself 
described it — by that charm of sweetness and 
simplicity in Iris, of which her own de- 
praved nature presented no trace. She now 
spoke with hesitation, almost with timidity, 
in addressing the woman whom she had so 
cleverly deceived, at the time when they first 

' Must I give up all. Miss Henley, that I 
most value ? ' she asked. 

'I hardly understand you, Mrs. Yimpany.' 

' I will try to make it plainer. Do you 
really mean to leave me, this evening ? ' 

' I do.' 

' May I own that I am grieved to hear it? 
Your departure will deprive me of some 
happy hours, in your company.' 


' Your husband's conduct leaves me no 
alternative,' Iris replied. 

' Pray do not humiliate me by speaking of 
my liusband ! I only want to know if there 
is a harder trial of my fortitude still to come. 
Must I lose the privilege of being your friend?' 

' I hope I am not capable of such injustice 
as that,' Iris declared. ' It Avould be liard 
indeed to lay the blame of Mr. Vimpany's 
shameful behaviour on you. I don't forget 
that you made him offer an apology. Some 
women, married to such a man as tJiat, might 
have been afraid of him. No, no ; you have 
been a good fi'iend to me — and I mean to 
remember it.' 

Mrs. Yimpany's gratitude was too sincerely 
felt to be expressed with lier customary 
readiness. She only said wJiat the stupidest 
woman in existence coidd have said : 'Thank 


111 tlie silence tliat followed, the rapid 
movement of carriage-wheels became audible 
in the street. The sound stopped at the door 
of the doctor's house. 




^AD Momitjoy arrived to take Iris 
away, before her preparations for 
travelling were complete? Both 
the ladies hurried to the window, but they 
were too late. The rapid visitor, already 
liidden from them under the portico, was 
knocking smartly at the door. In another 
minute, a man's voice in the hall asked for 
'Mss Henley.' The tones — clear, mellow, and 
pleasantly varied here and there by the Irish 
accent — were not to be mistaken by anyone 
who had already heard tliem. The man in 
the hall was Lord Harry. 

VOL. I. Q 


In that serious emergency, Mrs. Yimpany 
recovered her presence of mind. 

^She made for the door, with the object 
of speaking to Lord Harry before he could 
present himself in the drawing-room. But 
Iris had heard him ask for her in the hall ; 
and that one circumstance instantly stripped 
of its concealments the character of the 
woman in whose integrity she had believed. 
Her first impression of Mrs. Yimpany — so 
sincerely repented, so eagerly atoned for — 
had been the right impression after all ! 
Younger, ligliter, and quicker tlinn the doc- 
tor's wife, Iris reached tlie door first, and laid 
her hand on the lock. 

' Wait a minute,' she said. 

Mrs. Yimpany hesitated. For the first 
time in lier life at a loss wliat to say, slie 
could only sign to Iris to stand back. Iris 
refused to move, t^lie put lier tei'rible ques- 
tion in the plainest words : 


' How does Lord Harry know that I am 
in this house ? ' 

The wretched woman (Hstening intently 
for the sound of a step on the stairs) refused 
to submit to a shameful exposure, even now. 
To her perverted moral sense, any falsehood 
was acceptable, as a means of hiding herself 
from discovery by Iris. In the very face of 
detection, the skilled deceiver kept up the 
mockery of deceit. 

' My dear,' she said, ' what has come to 
you ? Why won't you let me go to my 
room ? ' 

Iris eyed her with a look of scornful sur- 
prise. ' What next ? ' she said. ' Are you 
impudent enough to pretend that I have not 
found you out, yet ? ' 

Sheer desperation still sustained Mrs. 
Yimpany's courage. She played her assumed 
character against the contemptuous incre- 
dulity of Iris, as she luxd sometimes played 

Q 2 


her theatrical characters agamst the hissing 
and hooting of a brutal audience. 

' Miss Henley,' she said, ' you forget your- 

' Do you think I didn't see in your face,' 
Iris rejoined, 'that you heard him, too? 
Answer my question.' 

'What question ? ' 

' You have just heard it.' 

' No ! ' 

' You false woman ! ' 

' Don't forget. Miss Henley, that you are 
speaking to a lady.' 

' I am speaking to Lord Harry's spy ! ' 

Their voices rose loud : the excitement on 
either side had readied its climax ; neither 
the one nor the other was composed enough 
to notice the sound of the carriage-wheels, 
leaving the house again. In tlie meanwhile, 
nobody came to the drawing-room door. 


Mrs. Yimpany wa^ too well acquainted with 
the hot-headed Irish lord not to conclude that 
he would have made himself heard, and 
would have found his w^ay to Iris, but for 
some obstacle, below stairs, for which he was 
not prepared. The doctor's wife did justice 
to the doctor at last. Another person had, 
in all probabihty, heard Lord Harry's voice 
— and that person might have been her 

Was it possible that he remembered the 
service wdiich she had asked of him ; and, 
even if he had succeeded in calling it to 
mind, was his discretion to be trusted ? As 
those questions occurred to her, the desire to 
obtain some positive information was more 
than she was able to resist. Mrs. Yimpany 
attempted to leave the drawing-room for the 
second time. 

But the same motive had already urged 


Miss Ilcnlcy to action. Again, tlie youiigoi- 
woman outstripped the elder. Iris descended 
the stairs, resolved to discover the cause of 
the sudden suspension of events in the lower 
part of the house. 




THE doctor's wife . 
followed Miss 
Henley out of the 
room, as far as 
the landini^ — and 
waited there. 

She had her- 
? reasons for placing 
^' this restraint on 
jfef*-^ herself. The posi- 
-*^'^'^ tion of the landing 
concealed her from the 
view of a person in the 
lall. If she only lis- 
tened for the sound of 


voices she might safely discover whether 
Lord Harry was, or was not, still in the 
house. In the first event, it would be easy 
to interrupt his interview with Iris, before 
the talk could lead to disclosures which Mrs. 
Vimpany had every reason to dread. In the 
second event, there would be no need to 
show herself. 

Meanwhile, Iris opened the dining-room 
door and looked in. 

Nobody was there. The one other room 
on the ground floor, situated at the back of 
the building, was the doctor's consulting- 
room. She knocked at the door. Mr. 
Vimpany 's voice answered : ' Come in.' There 
he was alone, drinking brandy and water, 
and smoking his big black cigar. 

' Where is Lord Harry ? ' she said. 

' In Ireland, I suppose,' Mr. Vimpany 
answered quietly. 

Iris wasted no time in making useless 


inquiries. She closed the door again, and 
left him. He, too, was undoubtedly in the 
conspiracy to keep lier deceived. How had 
it been done? Where Avas the wild lord, at 
that moment ? 

Whilst she was pursuing these reflections 
in the hall, Ehoda came up from the servants' 
tea-table in tlie kitchen. Her mistress gave 
her the necessary instructions for packing, 
and promised to help her before long. Mrs. 
Vimpany's audacious resolution to dispute the 
evidence of her own senses, still dwelt on Miss 
Henley's mind. Too angry to think of the 
embarrassment which an interview with Lord 
Harry would produce, after they had said 
tlieir farewell words in Ireland, she was 
determined to prevent the doctor's wife from 
speaking to him first, and claiming him as an 
accomplice in her impudent denial of the 
truth. If he liad been, by any chance, 
deluded into leavini*; tlie house, he would 


sooner or later discover the trick tliat liad 
been played on liim, and would certainly 
return. Iris took a chair m tlie hall. 

It is due to the doctor to relate that he 
had indeed justified his wife's confidence in 

The diamond pin, undergoing valuation 
in London, still represented a present terror 
in his mind. The money, the money — he was 
the most attentive husband in England wdien 
he thought of the money ! At the time when 
Lord Harry's carriage stopped at his house- 
door, lie was in the dining-room, taking a 
bottle of l)i'andy from the cellaret in the- side- 
board. Looking instantly out of the window, 
he discovered who the visitor was, and de- 
cided on consulting his instructions in the 
pocket-diary. The attempt was rendered 
useless, as soon as he had opened the book, 
by the unlucky activity of the servant in 


answering tlie door. llcr master stopped 
lier in the liall. Tie was ])leasantly conscious 
of the recovery of liis cunning. But his 
memory (far from active under tlie most 
favourable circumstances) was slower than 
ever at helping him now. On the spur of the 
moment, he could only call to mind that he 
had been ordered to prevent a meeting 
between Lord Ilarry and Iris. ' Show the 
gentleman into my consulting-room,' he said. 

Lord Harry found the doctor enthroned 
on liis professional chair, surprised and de- 
lighted to see his distinguished friend. The 
impetuous Lishman at once asked for Miss 

' Gone,' Mr. Yimpany answered. 

' Gone — where P ' the wild lord wanted to 
know next. 

' To London.' 

'By herself?' ' 

' Xo ; with Mr. Ilugli Mountjoy.' 


Lord Harry seized tlie doctor by the 
shoulders, and shook hmi : ' You don't mean 
to tell nie Mountjoy is going to marry 
her ? ' . 

Mr. Yimpany feared nothing but the loss 
of money. The weaker and the older man of 
the two, he nevertheless followed the young 
lord's example, and shook him with right 
good- wall. ' Let's see how you like it, in 
your turn,' he said. ' As for Mountjoy, I 
don't know whether he is married or single — ' 
and don't care.' 

' The devil take your obstinacy ! When 
did they start ? ' 

' The devil take your questions ! They 
started not long since.' 

' Might I catch them at the station ? ' 

' Yes ; if vou c^o at once.' 

So the desperate doctor carried out his 
wife's instructions — -without rememberinor the 


conditions wdiich liad accompanied them. 


The way to tlie station took Lord Harry- 
past tlie inn. He saw Hugh Mountjoy, 
through the open house door, paying his bill 
•at the bar. In an instant tlie carriage was 
stopped, and the two men (never on friendly 
terms) were formally bowing to each other. 

' I was told I should find you,' Lord Harry 
said, ' with Miss Henley, at the station.' 

' Who gave you your information ? ' 

' Yimpany — the doctor.' 

' He ought to know that the train isn't 
due at the station for an hour yet.' 

' Has the blackguard deceived me ? One 
word more, Mr. Mountjoy. Is Miss Henley 
at the inn ? ' 


' Are you going with her to London ? ' 

' I must leave Miss Henley to answer 

' Where is she, sir P ' 

' There is an end to everything, my lord, 


in the world we live in. You liave reached 
the end of my readiness to answer questions.' 
The Englishman and tlie Irishman looked 
at each other : the Anglo-Saxon was impene- 
trably cool ; the Celt was fiuslied and angry. 
They might have been on the brink of a 
quarrel, but for Lord Harry's native quick- 
ness of perception, and his exercise of it at 
that moment. When he had called at Mr. 
Vimpany's house, and had asked for Iris, the 
doctor had got rid of him by means of a lie. 
After this discovery, at what conclusion could 
he arrive ? The doctor was certainly keeping 
Iris out of his way. Eeasoning in this rapid 
manner, Lord Harry let one offence pass, in 
his headlon<^ eagerness to resent another. He 
instantly left Mountjoy. Again, the carriage 
rattled back aloncf the street ; but it was 
stopped before it readied Mr. Vimpany's 

Lord Harry knew the people whom he 


had to (leal with, and took measures to 
approach the house silently, on foot. The 
coachman received orders to look out for a 
signal, which should tell him when he was 
wanted again. 

Mr. Yimpany's ears, vigilantly on the 
watcli for suspicious events, detected no 
sound of carriage-wheels and no noisy use of 
the knocker. Still on his guard, however, a 
ring at the house-bell disturbed him in liis 
consulting-room. Peeping into the hall, he 
saw Iris opening the door, and stole back to 
liis room. ' Tlie devil take her!' he said, 
alhuling to Miss Henley, and thinking of the 
enviable proprietor of tlie diamond pin. 

At tlie unexpected apj)carance of Iris, 
Lord Harry forgot every consideration which 
ouglit to liave been present to his mind, at 
that critical moment. 

He advanced to lier witli both liands lield 
out in cordial irreetino-. She sijined to him 


contemptuously to stand back — and spoke in 
tones cautiously lowered, after a glance at tlie 
door of the consulting-room. 

' My only reason for consenting to see 
you,' she said, ' is to protect myself from 
further deception. Your disgraceful conduct 
is known to me. Go now,' she continued, 
pointing to the stairs, ' and consult with your 
spy, as soon as you like.' The Irish lord 
listened^guiltily conscious of having deserved 
what she had said to him — without attempt- 
ing to utter a word in excuse. 

Still posted at the head of the stairs, the 
doctor's wife heard Iris speaking ; but the 
tone was not loud enough to make the words 
intelhgible at that distance ; neither was any 
other voice audible in reply. Vaguely sus- 
picious of some act of domestic treachery, 
Mrs. Yimpany began to descend the stairs. 
At the turning: which o^ave her a view of tlie 
hall, she stopped ; thunderstruck by the dis- 


CO very of Lord HaiTy and Miss Henley, 

The presence of a third person seemed, in 
some degree, to reheve Lord Harry. He ran 
upstairs to salute Mrs. Yimpany, and was met 
again by a cold reception and a hostile look. 

Strongly and strangely contrasted, the two 
confronted each other on the stairs. The 
faded woman, wan and ghastly under cruel 
stress of mental suffering, stood face to face 
with a line, tall, lithe man, in the prime of his 
health and strength. Here were the bright 
blue eyes, the winning smile, and the natural 
grace of movement, which find their own way 
to favour in the estimation of the gentler 
sex. This irreclaimable wanderer among the 
perilous by-ways of the earth — christened 
' Irish blackguard,' among respectable mem- 
bers of society, when they spoke of him 
behind his back — attracted attention, even 
among the men. Looking at his daring, finely- 

VOL. I. R 


formed face, they noticed (as an exception 
to a general rule, in these days) the total 
suppression, by the razor, of whiskers, 
moustache, and beard. Strangers wondered 
whether Lord Harry was an actor or a Eoman 
Catholic priest. Among chance acquaintances, 
those few favourites of Nature who are 
possessed of active brains, guessed that his 
life of adventure might Avell have rendered 
disguise necessary to his safety, in more than 
one part of the world. Sometimes they 
boldly put the question to him. The hot 
temper of an Irishman, in moments of excite- 
ment, is not infrequently a sweet temper in 
moments of' calm. What they called Lord 
Harry's good-nature owned readily that he 
had been indebted, on certain occasions, to 
tlie protection of a false beard, and perhaps a 
colouring of his face and hair to match. The 
same easy disposition now asserted itself, 
under the merciless enmity of Mrs. Yimpany's 


eyes. ' If I have done anything to offend 
you,' he said, with an air of puzzled Juimihty, 
' I'm sure I am sorry for it. Don't be angry, 
Arabella, with an old friend. Wliy won't 
you shake hands? ' 

' I have kept your secret, and done your 
dirty work,' Mrs. Yimpany replied. 'And' 
what is my reward ? Miss Henley can tell 
you how your Irish blundering has ruined me 
in a lady's estimation. Shake hands, indeed ? 
You will never shake hands with Me again as 
long as you live ! ' 

She said those words without looking? at 
him ; her eyes were resting on Iris now. 
From the moment when she had seen the two 
together, she knew that it was all over ; 
further denial in the face of plain proofs 
would be useless indeed ! Submission was 
the one alternative left. 

' Miss Henley,' she said, ' if you can feel 
pity for another woman's sorrow and shame, 

R id 


let me have a last word with you — out of this 
man's hearinir.' 

There was nothing artificial in her tones 
or her looks ; no acting could have imitated 
the sad sincerity with which she spoke. 
Touched by that cliange, Iris accompanied 
her as she ascended the stairs. After a little 
hesitation, Lord Harry followed them. Mrs* 
Yimpany turned on him Avhen they reached 
the drawinfT-room landini^. ' Must I shut the 
door in your face ? ' she asked. 

He was as pleasantly patient as ever : 
' You needn't take the trouble to do that, 
my dear ; I'll only ask your leave to sit down 
and wait on the stairs. When you have done 
with Miss Henley, just call me in. And, by 
the way, don't be alarmed in case of a little 
noise — say a heavy man tumbling downstairs. 
If the blackguard it's your misfortune to be 
married to happens to show himself, I shall be 
under the necessity of kicking, him. That's all.' 


Mrs. Vimpany closed the door. She 
spoke to Iris respectfully, as she might have 
addressed a stranger occupying a higher rank 
in life than herself. 

'There is an end, madam, to our short 
acquaintance ; and, as we botli know, an end 
to it for ever. When we first met — let me 
tell the truth at last ! — I felt a malicious 
pleasure in deceiving you. After that time, 
I was surprised to find that you grew on my 
liking. Can you understand the wickedness 
that tried to resist you ? It was useless ; 
your good influence has been too strong for 
me. Strange, isn't it ? I have lived a life of 
deceit, among bad people. What could you 
expect of me, after that ? I heaped lies on 
lies — I would have denied that the sun was 
in the heavens — rather than find myself de- 
graded in your opinion. Well ! that is all 
over — useless, quite useless now. Pray don't 
mistake me. I am not attempting to excuse 


myself ; a confession was due to you ; the 
confession is made. It is too late to hope 
that you will forgive me. If you will permit 
it, I have only one favour to ask. Forget 

She turned away with a last hopeless look, 
which said as plainly as if in words : ' I am 
not worth a reply.' 

Generous Iris insisted on speaking to her. 

' I believe you are truly sorry for what 
you have done,' she said : ' I can never forget 
that — I can never forget You.' She held out 
lier pitying hand. Mrs. Yimpany was too 
bitterly conscious of the past to touch it. 
Even a spy is not beneath the universal reach 
of the heartache. There were tears in the 
miserable woman's eyes when she had looked 
her last at Iris Henley. 


LORD Harry's defexce 

FTER a sliort inter- 
val, the drawing- 
room door was 
opened again. 
ilh Waiting on 
the thresliold 
the Iridi Icid 

7^ ji, asked if 

r-f// V\\\Tl, , 

he might 

come in. 

Iris rc- 

phed. coldly. 

' This is not 

my house, 


she said ; ' I must leave you to decide for 

Lord Harry crossed tlie room to speak to 
her — and stopped. There was no sign of 
relenting towards him in that dearly-loved 
face. ' I wonder whether it would be a relief 
to you,' he suggested with piteous liumility, 
' if I went away ? ' 

If she ]iad been true to herself, she would 
have said, Yes. Where is the woman to be 
found, in her place, with a heart hard enough 
to have set her that example P Slie pointed 
to a chair. lie felt her indulgence gratefully. 
Following the impulse of the moment, lie 
attempted to excuse his conduct. 

' Tliere is only one thing I can say for 
myself,' he confessed, ' I didn't begin by de- 
ceiving you. While you liad your eye on 
me. Iris, I was an honourable man.' 

This extraordinary defence reduced her to 
silence. Was there another man in the world 


who would have pleaded for pardon in that 
way ? ' I'm afraid I have not made myself 
understood,' he said. ' May I try again ? ' 

' If you please.' 

Tlie vagabond nobleman made a resolute 
effort to explain himself intelligibly, this 
time : 

' See now^ ! We said good-b3^e, over there, 
in tlie poor old island. Well, indeed I meant 
it, when I owned that I was unwortliy of you. 
I didn't contradict you, when you said 3'ou 
could never be my wife, after such a life as I 
have led. And, do remember, I submitted to 
your returning to England, witliout presuming 
to make a complaint. Ah, my sweet girl, 
it was easy to submit, while I could look at 
you, and hear the sound of your voice, and 
beo' for that last kiss — and o-et it. Eeverend 
gentlemen talk about the fall of Adam. "What 
was that to the fall of Harry, wlien he was 
back in his own little cottage, without the 


hope of ever seeing you again ? To the best 
of ni}^ recollection, the serpent that tempted 
Eve was up a tree. ' I found the serpent that 
tempted Me, sitting waiting in my own arm- 
cliair, and bent on nothing worse than borrow- 
ing a trifle of money. Need I say who she 
was? I don't doubt that you think her a 
wicked woman.' 

Never ready in sj)eaking of acts of kind- 
ness, on her own part, Iris answered with 
some little reserve : ' I have learnt to think 
better of Mrs. Yimpany than you suppose.' 

Lord Harry began to look like a happy 
man, for the first time since he iiad entered 
the room. 

' I ought to have known it ! ' he burst out. 
'Yours is the well-balanced mind, dear, tliat 
tempers justice with mercy. j\ [other Yimpany 
lias liad a hard life of it. Just change places 
with her for a minute or so — a'nd you'll 
understand wliat slie has had to ao throujzh. 


Find yourself, for instance, in Ireland, with- 
out the means to take you back to England. 
Add to that, a liusband who sends you away 
to make money for him at the theatre, and a 
manager (not an Irishman, thank Gocl !) who 
refuses to engage you — afcer your acting has 
filled his dirty pockets in past days — because 
your beauty has faded with time. Doesn't 
your bright imagination see it all now? My 
old friend Arabella, ready and anxious to 
serve me — and a sinking at this poor fellow's 
heart when he knew, if he once lost the trace 
of you, he might lose it for ever — there's the 
situation, as they call it on the stage. I wish 
I could say for myself what I may say for 
Mrs. Yimpany. It's such a pleasure to a 
clever woman to engage in a little deceit— we 
can't blame her, can we ? ' 

Iris protested gently against a code of 
morality which included the right of deceit 
among the privileges of the sex. Lord Harry 


slipped through her fingers with the admirable 
Irish readiness ; he agreed with Miss Henley 
that he was entirely wrong. 

' And don't spare me while you're about 
it,' he suggested. ' Lay all the blame of that 
shameful stratagem on my shoulders. It was 
a despicable thing to do. When I had you 
watched, I acted in a manner — I won't say 
unworthy of a gentleman ; have I been a 
gentleman since I first ran away from home ? 
Why, it's even been said my Avay of speaking 
is no longer the way of a gentleman ; and 
small wonder, too, after the company I've 
kept. Ah, w^ell ! I'm off again, darling, on a 
sea voyage. Will you forgive me now ? or 
will you wait till I come back, if I do come 
back ? God knows ! ' He dropped on his 
knees, and kissed lier hand. ' Anyway,' he 
said, ' whether I live or whether I die, it will 
be some consolation to remember that I asked 
your pardon — and perhaps got it.' 


' Take it, Harry ; I can't help forgiving 

you ! ' 

She had done her best to resist him, and 
she had answered in tliose merciful words. 

The effect was visible, perilously visible, as 
he rose from his knees. Her one chance of 
keeping the distance between them, on which 
she had been too weak to insist, was not to 
encourage him by silence. Abruptly, des- 
perately, she made a commonplace inquiry 
about his proposed voyage. ' Tell me,' she 
resumed, ' where are you going when you 
leave England ? ' 

' Oh, to find money, dear, if I can — to 
pick up diamonds, or to hit on a mine of gold, 
and so forth.' 

The fine observation of Iris detected some- 
thing not quite easy in his manner, as he 
made that reply. He tried to change the 
subject: she deliberately returned to it. 
'Your account of your travelling-plans is 


rather vague,' she told him. ' Do 3^011 know 
when you are hkely to return P ' 

He took her hand. One of the rings on 
her fingers happened to be turned the wrong 
way. He set it in the right position, and dis- 
covered an opaL ' Ah ! the unlucky stone ! ' 
he cried, and turned it back again out of 
sight. She drew away her hand. ' I asked 
you,' she persisted, 'when you expect to 
return ? ' 

He laughed — not so gaily as usual. 

' How do I know I shall ever get back .^ ' 
he answered. ' Sometimes the seas turn 
traitor, and sometimes the savages. I have 
had so many narrow escapes of my life, I can't 
expect my luck to last for ever.' He made 
a second attempt to change the subject. ' I 
wonder whether you're likely to pay another 
visit to Ireland ? My cottage is entirely at 
your disposal, Iris dear. Oh, when I'm out 
of the way, of course ! The place seemed to 


please your fancy, when you saw it. You 
will find it well taken care of, I answer for 

Iris asked vvlio was taking care of liis 
cottage ? 

The wild lord's face saddened. He hesi- 
tated ; rose from his chair ]-estlessly, and 
walked away to the window ; returned, and 
made up his mind to reply. 

' My dear, you know her. She was the 
old housekeeper at ' 

His voice failed him. He was unable, or 
unwilling, to pronounce the name of Arthur's 

Knowing, it is needless to say, that he 
had alluded to Mrs. Lewson, Iris warmly 
commended him fo-r takins^ care of her old 
nurse. At the same time, she remembered 
the unfriendly terms in which the house- 
keeper had alluded to Lord Harry, when they 
had talked of him. 


' Did you iincl no difficulty,' she asked, ' in 
persuading Mrs. Lewson to enter your ser- 
vice ? ' 

' Oh, yes, plenty of difficulty ; I found my 
bad character in my way, as usual; It was 
a relief to him, at that moment, to talk of 
Mrs. Lewson ; the Irish humour and the Irisli 
accent both asserted themselves in his reply. 
' The curious old creature told me to my face 
I was a scamp. I took leave to remind her 
that it was the duty of a respectable person 
like herself, to reform scamps ; I also men- 
tioned that I was going away, and she would 
be master and mistress too on my small 
property. That softened her heart towards 
me. You will mostly find old women amenable, 
if you get at them by way of their dignity. 
Besides, there was another lucky circumstance 
that helped me. The neighbourhood of my 
cottage has some attraction for Mrs. Lewson. 


She didn't say particularly what it was — and 
I never asked her to tell me.' 

' Surely you might have guessed it, with- 
out being told,' Iris reminded him. ' Mrs. 
Lewson's faithful heart loves poor Arthur's 
memory — and Arthur's grave is not far from 
your cottage.' 

' Don't speak of him ! ' 

It was said loudly, peremptorily, passion- 
ately. He looked at her with angry astonish- 
ment in his face. ' You loved him too ! ' he 
said. 'Can you speak of him quietly? The 
noblest, truest, sweetest man that ever the 
Heavens looked on, foully assassinated. And 
the wretch who murdered him still livinQ- 
free — oh, what is God's providence about ? — - 
is there no retribution that will follow him ? no 
just hand that will revenge Arthur's death? ' 

As those fierce words escaped him, he was 
no longer the easv, gentle, joyous creature 



wliom Iris had known and loved. The furious 
passions of the Celtic race glittered savagely 
in his eyes, and changed to a grey horrid pallor 
the healthy colour that was natural to his 
face. ' Oh, my temper, my temper ! ' he 
cried, as Iris shrank from him. ' She hates 
me now, and no wonder.' He staggered away 
from her, and burst into a convulsive fit of 
crying, dreadful to hear. Compassion, divine 
compassion, mastered the earthlier emotion of 
terror in the great heart of the woman who 
loved him. She followed him, and laid her 
hand caressingly oli his shoulder. ' I don't 
hate you, my dear,' she said. 'I am sorry 
for Arthur — and, oh, so sorry for You ! ' He 
caught her in his arms. His gratitude, his 
repentance, his silent farewell were all ex- 
pressed in a last kiss. It was a moment, 
never to be forgotten to the end of their lives. 
Before she could speak, before she could 
think, he had left her. 


She called liiiii back, through the open 
door. He never returned ; he never even 
replied. She ran to the window, and threw it 
up — and was just in time to see him signal to 
the carriage and leap into it. Her horror of 
the fatal purpose that was but too plainly 
rooted in him — her conviction that he was on 
the track of the assassin, self-devoted to exact 
the terrible penalty of blood for blood — em- 
boldened her to insist on being heard. ' Come 
back,' she cried. ' I must, I will, speak with 
you.' • 

He waved his hand to her with a gesture 
of despair. ' Start your horses,' he shouted 
to the coachman. Alarmed by his voice and 
his look, the man asked where he should 
drive to. Lord Harry pointed furiously to 
the onward road. ' Drive,' he answered, ' to 
the Devil ! ' 





LITTLE more than four months had 
passed, since the return of Iris to 
her father's house. 
Among other events which occurred, 
during the earher part of that interval, the 
course adopted by Hugh Mountjoy when Miss 
Henley's suspicions of the Irisli lord were first 
communicated to him, claims a foremost 

It was impossible that the devoted friend 
of Iris could look at her, when they met again 
on their way to the station, without perceiving 

IJ^/S AT HOME 26 r 

the signs of serious agitation. Only waiting 
until they were alone in the railway carriage 
she opened her heart unreservedly to the man 
in whose clear intellect and true sympathy slie 
could repose implicit trust. He listened to 
what she could repeat of Lord Harry's lan- 
guage with but little appearance of surprise. 
Iris had only reminded him of one, among the 
disclosures which had escaped Mr. Yimpany 
at the inn. Under the irresistible influence 
of good wine, the doctor had revealed the 
Irish lord's motive for remaining; in his own 
country, after the assassination of Arthur 
Mountjoy. Hugh met the only difficulty in 
his way, without shrinking from it. He 
resolved to clear his mind of its natural pre- 
judice against the rival who had been pre- 
ferred to him, before he assumed the responsi- 
bility of guiding Ii'is by his advice. 

When he had in some deo'ree recovered 
confidence in his own unbiassed judgment, he 


entered on tlie question of Lord Harry's 
purpose in leaving England. 

Without attempting to dispute tlie con- 
clusion at wliicli Iris had arrived, he did his 
best to alleviate her distress. In his opinion, 
he was careful to tell her, a discovery of 
the destination to which Lord Harry pro- 
posed to betake himself might be achieved. 
The Irish lord's allusion to a new adventure 
which would occupy him in searching for dia- 
monds or gold, might indicate a contemplated 
pursuit of the assassin, as well as a plausible 
excuse to satisfy Iris. It was at least possible 
that the murderer might have been warned of 
his danger if he remained in England, and 
that lie might have contemplated directing his 
flight to a distant country, which would not only 
offer a safe refuge, but also hold out (in its 
mineral treasures) a hope of gain. Assuming 
that tliese circumstances had really happened, 
it was in Lord Harry's character to make sure 


of liis revenge, by embarking in llie steam-sliip 
by wliicli the assassin of Arthur Mountjoy 
was a passenger. 

Wild as this <]fiiess at tlie truth unclonbtedly 
was, it had one merit : it might easily be put 
to the test. 

Hugh had bought the day's newspaper, 
at the station. He proposed to consult the 
shipping advertisements relating, in tlie first 
place, to communication with the diamond- 
mines and tlie gold-fields of South Africa. 

This course of proceeding at once in- 
formed him that the first steamer, bound for 
that destination, would sail from London in 
two days' time. The obvious precaution to 
take was to have the Docks watched ; and 
Mountjoy 's steady old servant, who knew 
Lord Harry by sight, was the man to employ. 

Iris naturally inquired what good end 
could be attained, if the anticipated discovery 
actually took place. 


To this Mount] oy answered, tliat the one 
hope — a faint hope, he must needs confess — 
of inducing Lord Harry to reconsider his 
desperate purpose, lay in the influence of Iris 
herself. She must address a letter to him, 
announcing that his secret had been betrayed 
by his own language and conduct, and declar- 
ing that she would never again see him, or 
hold any communication with him, if he per- 
sisted in his savag^e resolution of reven<?e. 
Such was the desperate experiment which 
Mountjoy's generous and unselfish devotion 
to Iris now proposed to try. 

The servant (duly entrusted with Miss 
Henley's letter) was placed on the watcli 
— and the event which had been rec^arded 
as little better than a forlorn hope proved 
to be the event that really took place. 
Lord Harry was a passenger by the steam- 

Mountjoy's man presented the letter en- 

The wild lord read ii—lcokedito use the messenger's own words) like a man cut to the heart, 
and seemed at a loss what to say or do. 

/R/S AT HOME 265 

trusted to him, and asked respectfully if there 
was any answer. The wild lord read it — 
looked (to use the messenger's own words) 
like a man cut to tlie heart — seemed at a loss 
what to say or do — and only gave a verbal 
answer; 'I sincerely thank Miss Henley, and 
I promise to write when the sliip touches at 
Madeira.' The servant continued to watch 
him when he went on board the steamer ; saw 
him cast a look backwards, as if suspecting 
that he might have been followed ; and then 
lost sight of him in the cabin. The vessel 
sailed after a long interval of delay, but he 
never reappeared on the deck. 

The ambiguous messaf^e sent to her 
aroused the resentment of Iris ; she thought it 
cruel. For some weeks perhaps to come, 
she was condemned to remain in doubt, and 
was left to endure the trial of her patience, 
without having Mountjoy at hand to en- 
courage and console her. He had been called 


away to the South of France 1)y tlie ilhiess of 
his father. 

But the fortunes of Miss Henley, at tliis 
period of lier hfe, had their brighter side. 
She found reason to conoTatuhate herself on 
the reconcihation which had brought her 
back to her father. Mr. Henley had received 
her, not perhaps with affection, but certainly 
with kindness. ' If vre don't get in each 
other's way, Ave shall do very well; I am 
c^lad to see you aoain.' That was all he had 
said to her, but it meant much from a soured 
and selfish man. 

Her only domestic anxiety was caused by 
another failure in the health of her maid. 

The Doctor declared that medical help 
woidd be of no avail, while Ehoda Bennet 
remained in London. In the country she had 
been born and bred, and to the country she 
must return. Mr. Henley's large landed 
property, on the north of London, happened 


to include a farm in tlie neiglibourliood of 
Muswell Hill. Wisely waiting for a favour- 
able opportunity, Iris alluded to the good 
qualities which had made Rhoda almost as 
much her friend as her servant, and asked 
leave to remove the invalid to the healthy air 
of the farm. 

Her anxiety about tlie recovery of a ser- 
vant so astonished Mr. Henley, that he was 
liurried (as he afterwards declared) into 
granting his daughter's request. After this 
concession, the necessary arrangements were 
easily made. The influence of Iris won the 
good-will of the farmer and his wife ; Ehoda, 
as an expert and willing needlewoman, being 
sure of a welcome, for Jier own sake, in a 
family which included a number of young 
children. Miss Henley had only to order lier 
carriage, and to be within reach of the farm. 
A week seldom passed witliout a meeting 
between the mistress and the maid. 


In the meantime, Mountjoy (absent in 
France) did not forget to write to Iris. 

His letters offered little hope of a speedy 
return. The doctors had not concealed from 
him that his father's illness would end fatally ; 
l)ut there w^ere reserves of vital power still 
left, wdiicli might prolong the struggle. Under 
these melancholy circumstances, he begged 
that Iris would w^rite to him. The oftener 
she could tell him of the little events of her 
life at home, the more kindly she would 
brighten the days of a dreary life. 

Easrer to show, even in a triflino; matter, 
how gratefully she appreciated Mountjoy's 
past kindness, Iris related the simple story of 
her life at home, in weekly letters addressed 
to her o'ood friend. After tellincc Huo-h 
(among other things) of Ehoda's establish- 
ment at the farm, she had some unexpected 
results to relate, which had followed the 
attempt to provide herself with a new maid. 


Two young women liaci been successively 
engaged — each recommended, by the lady 
wliom she had last served, with that utter 
disregard of moral obligation which appears 
to be shamelessly on the mcrease hi the 
England of our day. The first of the two 
maids, described as ' rather excitable,' re- 
vealed infirmities of temper which suggested 
a lunatic asylum as the only fit place for her. 
The second young woman, detected in steal- 
ing eau-de- cologne, and using it (mixed with 
water) as an intoxicating drink, claimed mer- 
ciful construction of her misconduct, on the 
ground that she liad been misled by the ex- 
ample of her last mistress. 

At the third attempt to ])rovide herself 
with a servant, Iris was able to report the 
discovery of a responsible person who told 
the truth — an unmarried lady of middle age. 

In this case, the young woman was de- 
scribed as a servant thoroughly trained in the 


performance of her duties, honest, sober, 
industrious, of an even temj)er, and unpro- 
vided with ' a follower ' in the shape of a 
sweetheart. Even her name sounded favour- 
ably in the ear of a stranger — it was Fanny 
Mere. Iris asked liov/ a servant, apparently 
possessed of a faultless character, came to be 
in want of a situation. At this question tlie 
lady sighed, and acknowledged that she had 
' made a dreadful discovery,' relating to the 
past life of her maid. It proved to be the old, 
the miserably old, story of a broken promise 
of marriage, and of the penalty paid as usual 
by the unhappy woman. 'I will say nothing 
of my own feelings,' the maiden lady ex- 
plained. ' In justice to the other female 
servants, it was impossible for me to keep 
such a person in ni}^ house ; and, in justice to 
you, I must most unwillingly stand in tlie 
way of Fanny Mere's prospects by mention- 
ing my reason for parting with her.' 

IRIS AT HO mi: 271 

' If I could see the young woman and speak 
to her,' Iris said, ' I sliould Hke to decide the 
question of engaging her, for rn3\self.' 

The lady knew the address of her dis- 
charged servant, and — with some appearance 
of wonder — communicated it. Miss Henley 
wrote at once, telling Fanny Mere to come to 
lier on the following da5^ 

When she woke on the next morning, later 
than usual, an event occurred which Iris had 
been impatiently expecting for some time 
past. She found a letter waiting on her bed- 
side table, side by side with her cup of tea. 
Lord Harry had written to her at last. 

. yyiietlier he used ]iis pen or his tongue, 
the Irish lord's conduct was always more or 
less in need of an apology. Here were tlie 
guilty one's new excuses, expressed in his cus- 
tomary medley of frank confession and llowery 
lan£:juao;e : 

'I am fearing, my angel, that I have 


offended you. You liave too surely said to 
yourself, This miserable Harry might have 
made me happy by writing two lines — and 
what does he do? He sends a message in 
words which tell me nothing. 

' My sweet girl, the reason why is that I 
was in two minds, when your man stopped 
me on my way to the ship. 

' Whether it was best for you — I was not 
thinking of myself — to confess the plain truth, 
or to take refuge in affectionate equivocation, 
was more tlian I could decide at the time. 
When minutes are enough for your intelli- 
gence, my stupidity wants days. Well ! I 
saw it at last. A man owes the truth to a 
true woman ; and you are a true woman. 
There you find a process of reasoning — I have 
been five days getting hold of it. 

' But tell me one tiling first. Brutus 
killed a man ; Chai'Iotte Corday killed a man. 
One of the two victims was a fine tvrant, and 


the other a mean tyrant. Nobody blames 
those two historical assassins. Why then 
blame me for wishing to make a third ? Is a 
mere modern murderer beneath my vengeance, 
by comparison with two classical tyrants who 
did their murders by deputy? The man who 
killed Arthur Mountjoy is (next to Cain alone) 
the most atrocious homicide that ever trod the 
miry ways of this earth. Tliere is my reply ! 
I call it a crusher. 

* So now my mind is easy. Darling, let 
me make your mind easy next. 

' When I left you at the window of 
Timpany's house, I was off to the other rail- 
road to find the murderer in his hiding-place 
by the seaside. He had left it ; but I got a 
trace, and went back to London — to the 
Docks. Some villain in Ireland, who knows 
my purpose, must have turned traitor. Any- 
how, the wretch has escaped me. 

^ Yes ; I searched the ship in every corner 

VOL. I. T 


He was not on board. lias lie ^^one on before 
me, by an earlier vessel ? Or has he directed 
his flight to some other part of the world ? I 
shall find ont in time. His day of reckoning 
will come, and he, too, shall know a violent 
death ! Amen. So be it. Amen. 

' Have I done noAv ? Bear with me, gentle 
Iris — there is a word more to come. 

' You will wonder wh}^ I went on by the 
steam-ship — all the way to Sonth Africa — 
when I failed to find the man I wanted, on 
board. What w^as my motive ? You, you 
alone, are always my motive. Lucky men 
have found gold, lucky men have found 
diamonds. Why should I not be one of 
them? My SAveet, let us suppose two possible 
things ; my own elastic convictions would call 
them two likely things, but never mind that. 
Say, I come back a reformed character ; there 
is your only objection to me, at once removed! 
And take it for c^ranted tliat I return with a 


fortune of 1113^ oAvn finding. In tliat case, 
wliat becomes of Mr. Henley's objection to 
me ? It melts (as Shakespeare says some- 
where) into thin air. Now do take my ad- 
vice, for once. Sliow this part of my letter 
to 3'Oiir excellent father, with my love. I 
answer beforehand for the consequences. Be 
happy, my Lady Harry — as happy as I am — 
and look for my return on an earlier day 
than you may anticipate.— Yours till death, 

and after, 

' Harry.' 

Like the Irish lord. Miss Henley was * in 
two minds,' while she rose and dressed her- 
self. There w^ere parts of the letter for which 
she loved the writer, and parts of it for which 
she hated him. 

What a prospect was before that reckless 
man — what misery, what horror, might not 
be lying in wait in the dreadful future! If 


he failed in the act of vengeance, that violent 
death of which lie had written so heedlessly 
might overtake him from anotlier hand. If 
he succeeded, the law might discover his 
crime, and the infamy of expiation on the scaf- 
fold might be his dreadful end. She turned, 
shuddering, from the contemplation of those 
hideous possibihties, and took refuge in the 
hope of his safe, his guiltless return. Even if 
his visions of success, even if his purposes of 
reform (how hopeless at his age !) were actu- 
ally realised, could she consent to marry tlie 
man who had led his life, had written his 
letter, had contemplated (and still cherished) 
his merciless resolution of revenge ? No 
woman in her senses could let the bare idea 
of being liis wife enter her mind. Iris opened 
her writing-desk, to hide the letter from all 
eyes but her own. As s]ie secured it with 
the key, her heart sank under the return of a 
terror remembered but too well. Once more 


tlie superstitious belief in a destiny that was 
urging Lord Harry and herself nearer and 
nearer to each other, even when they seemed 
to be most widely and most surely separated, 
thrilled her under the chilling mystery of its 
presence. She dropped helplessly into a 
chair. Oh, for a friend who could feel for 
her, who could strengthen her, whose wise 
words could restore her to her better and 
calmer self ! Hugh was far away ; and Iris 
was left to suffer and to struggle alone. 

Heartfelt aspirations for help and sym- 
pathy ! Oh, irony of circumstances, how 
were they answered ? The housemaid en- 
tered the room, to announce the arrival of a 
discharged servant, with a lost character. 

' Let the young woman come in,' Iris said. 
Was Fanny Mere the friend whom she had 
been longing for ? She looked at her trou- 
bled face in the glass — and laughed bitterl5^ 




THE lady's maid 

T was not easy to 
form a positive 
opinion of the 
young Avonian 
who now pre- 
sented herself 
in Miss Hen- 
ley's room. 

If the 
Turkisli taste 
is truly re- 
ported as va- 
luing beauty 
in the female fiiiurc more than beaatv in 


the female face, Fanny Mere's personal ap- 
pearance might liave found, in Constanti- 
nople, the approval which she failed to 
receive in London. Slim and well-balanced, 
firmly and neatly made, she interested men 
who met Avith her by accident (and sometimes 
even women), if they happened to be walking 
Ijeliind her. When they quickened their steps 
and, passing on, looked back at her face, they 
lost all interest in Fanny from that moment. 
Painters would liave described the defect in 
lier face as ' Avant of colour.' She was one of 
the wliitest of fair female human beings. 
Light flaxen hair, faint blue eyes with no ex- 
pression in them, and a complexion Avhich 
looked as if it had never been stirred by a cir- 
culation of blood, produced an effect on her 
fellow-creatures in general which made them 
insensible to the beauty of her figure, and the 
grace of her movements. There was no be- 
trayal of bad health in her strange pallor : on 


the contrary, she suggested the idea of rare 
physical strength. Her quietly respect fid 
manner was, so to say, emphasised by an 
underlying self-possession, which looked 
capable of acting promptly and fearlessly in 
the critical emergencies of life. Otherwise, 
the expression of character in her face was 
essentially passive. Here was a steady, reso- 
lute young woman, possessed of qualities 
which failed to show themselves on the surface 
— whether good qualities or bad qualities ex- 
perience alone could determine. 

Finding it impossible, judging by a first 
impression, to arrive at any immediate decision 
favourable or adverse to the stranger, Iris 
opened the interview with her customary 
frankness ; leaving the consequences to follow 
as they might. 

' Take a seat, Fanny,' she said, ' and let us 
try if we can understand each other. I tliink 
you will agree with me that there must be no 


concealments between us. You ouglit to know 
that your mistress has told me why she parted 
with you. It was her duty to tell me tlie 
truth, and it is my duty not to be unjustly 
prejudiced against you after what I have 
heard. Pray believe me when I say that I 
don't knoAv, and don't wish to know, what 
your temptation may have been ' 

' I beg your pardon, Miss, for interrupting 
you. My temptation was vanity.' 

Whether she did or did not suffer in mak- 
ing that confession, it was impossible to dis- 
cover. Her tones were quiet ; her manner 
was unobtrusively respectful ; the pallor of 
her face was not disturbed by the slio-htest 
cliano'e of colour. Was the new maid an 
insensible person ? Iris began to fear already 
that she might have made a mistake. 

' I don't expect you to enter into par- 
ticulars,' she said ; ' I don't ask you here to 
humiliate yourself.' 


' When I got your letter, Miss, I tried to 
consider how I might show myself Avorthy of 
your kindness,' Fanny answered. ' The one 
way I could see was not to let you think better 
of me than I deserve. When a person, like 
me, is told, for the first time, that her figure 
makes amends for her face, she is flattered by 
the only compliment that has been paid to her 
in all lier life. My excuse. Miss (if I have an 
excuse) is a mean one — I couldn't resist a 
compliment. That is all I have to say.' 

Iris began to alter her opinion. This was 
not a young woman of the ordinary type. It 
began to look possible, and more than possible, 
that she was worthy of a helping hand. The 
truth seemed to be in her. 

'I understand you, and feel for you.' 
Having replied in those Avords, Iris wisely and 
delicately changed the subject. ' Let me hear 
liow you are situated at the present time,' she 
continued. ' Are your parents hving ? ' 


' My father and mother are dead, Miss.' 

' Have you any other relatives P ' 

' They are too poor to be able to do any- 
thing for me. I have lost my character — and 
I am left to help myself.' 

' Suppose you fail to find another situa- 
tion ? ' Iris suggested. 

' Yes, Miss ? ' 

' How can you help yourself ? ' 

'I can do what other girls have done.' 

' What do you mean ? ' 

' Some of us starve on needlework. Some 
take to the streets. Some end it in the river. 
If there is no other chance for me, I think I 
shall try that way,' said the poor creature, as 
quietly as if she was speaking of some custom- 
ary prospect that was open to her. ' There will 

be nobody to be sorry for me and, as I have 

read, drowning is not a very painful death.' 

' You shock me, Fanny ! I, for one, should 
be sorry for you.' 


' Thank you, Miss.' 

' And try to remember,' Iris continued, 
' that there may be chances in the future 
which you don't see yet. You speak of what 
you have read, and I have already noticed how 
clearly and correctly you express yourself. 
You must have been educated. Was it at 
liome ? or at school ? ' 

' I was once sent to school,' Fanny replied, 
not quite willingly. 

' Was it a private school ? ' 

' Yes.' 

That short answer warned Iris to be 

' Eecollections of school,' she said good- 
humouredly, ' are not the pleasantest recol- 
lections in some of our lives. Perhaps I have 
touched on a subject which is disagreeable to 
you ? ' 

' You have touched on one of my disap- 
pointments, Miss. Wliile my mother lived. 


she was my teacher. After her death, my 
father sent me to scliooL When he failed in 
business, I was obhged to leave, just as I liad 
begun to learn and like it. Besides, the girls 
found out that I was going away, because 
there was no money at liome to pay the fees 
— and that mortilied me. There is more that 
I might tell you. I have a reason for hating 
my recollections of the school — but I mustn't 
mention tliat time in my life which your 
goodness to me tries to forget.' 

All that appealed to her, so simply and so 
modestly, in that reply, was not lost on Iris. 
After an interval of silence, she said : 

' Can you guess what I am thinking of, 
Fanny ? ' 

' No, Miss.' 

'I am asking myself a question. If I try 
you in my service shall I never regret it ? ' 

For the first time, strong emotion shook 
Fanny Mere, Iler voice failed lier, in tlie 


effort to speak. Iris considerately went 

' You will take the place,' she said, ' of a 
maid who has been with me for years — a good 
dear creature who has only left me through 
ill-health. I must not expect too much of 
you. I cannot hope that you will be to me 
what Ehoda Bennet has been.' 

Fanny succeeded in controlling herself. 
'Is there any hope, she asked,' ' of my seeing 
Ehoda Bennet?' 

' Why do you wish to see her? ' 

'You are fond of her. Miss — that is one 

' And the other ? ' 

' Ehoda Bennet might help me to serve 
3^ou as I want to serve you ; she might 
perhaps encourage me to try if I could follow 
her example.' Fanny paused, and clasped 
her hands fervently. The thought that was 
in her forced its way to expression. ' It's so 


easy to feel grateful,' slie said — ' and, oli, so 
hard to show it ! ' 

' Come to me,' her new mistress answered, 
' and show it to-morrow.' 

Moved by tliat compassionate impulse, 
Iris said the words which restored to an 
unfortunate creature a lost character and a 
forfeited place in tlie world. 

288 BLIiyD LOVE 


MR. IIEXLEY's temper 

|EOVIDED by Nature with ironclad 
constitutional defences against ill- 
ness, Mr. Henley was now and then 
troubled with groundless doubts of his own 
state of health. Actino^ under a delusion of 
this kind, he imagined symptoms Avhich 
rendered a cliange of residence necessary 
from his town house to his country house, a 
few days only after his daughter had decided 
on the engagement of her new maid. 

Iris gladly, even eagerly, adapted her own 
wishes to the furtherance of her father's plans. 
Sorely tried by anxiety and suspense, she 
needed all that I'ost and tranquillity could do 


for her. The first week in the country pro- 
duced an improvement in her health. En- 
joying the serene beauty of woodland and 
field, breathing the delicious purity of the air. 
— sometimes cultivating her own corner in the 
garden, and sometimes helping the women in 
the lighter labours of the dairy — her nerves 
recovered their tone, and her spirits rose again 
to their higher level. 

In the performance of her duties the new 
maid justified Miss Henley's confidence in her, 
during the residence of the liousehold in the 

She showed, in her own undemonstrative 
way, a grateful sense of her mistress's kind- 
ness. Her various occupations were intelli- 
gently and attentively pursued ; her even 
temper never seemed to vary ; she gave tlie 
servants no opportunities of compLnini no- of ]\qy. 
But one peculiarity in her beliaviour excited 
hostile remark, below-stairs On tlie occasions 

VOL. I. u 


when she was free to go out for the day, she 
always found some excuse for not joimng any 
of the other female servants, who might 
happen to be similarly favoured. The one 
use she made of her hohday was to travel 
by railway to some place unknown ; always 
returning at the right time in the evening. 
Iris knew enouc^h of the sad circumstances to 
be able to respect her motives, and to appre- 
ciate the necessity for keeping the object of 
those solitary journeys a secret from her 

The pleasant life in the country house 
had lasted for nearly a month, when the an- 
nouncement of Hugh's approaching return to 
England reached Iris. The fatal end of his 
father's long and lingering illness had arrived, 
and the funeral liad taken place. Business, 
connected with his succession to the property, 
would detain liim in London for a few days. 
Submitting to this necessity, he earnestly 


GX[)re.ssGd the hope of seeing Iris again, the 
moment he was at Hberty. 

Hearing the good news, ]\Ir. Hunley 
obstinately returned to his plans — already 
twice thwarted — for promoting the marriage 
of Mountjoy and Iris. 

He wrote to invite Hugh to his house in 
a tone of cordiality which astonished his 
daughter ; and when the guest arrived, the 
genial welcome of the host had but one 
defect — ^Mr. Henley overacted his part. He 
gave the two young people perpetual oppor- 
tunities of speaking to each other privately ; 
and, on the principle that none are so blind 
as those who won't see, he failed to discover 
that the relations between them continued to 
be relations of friendship, do what he might. 
Hugh's long attendance on his dying father 
had left him depressed in spirits ; Iris under- 
stood him, and felt for him. He was not 

u 2 


ready with liis opinion of the new maid, after 
he had seen Fanny Mere. 'My indination/ 
he said, ' is to trust the girL And yet I hesitate 
to follow my inclination — and I don't know 

When Hugh's visit came to an end, he 
continued his journey in a northerly direction. 
The property left to him by his father included 
a cottage, standing in its own grounds, on the 
Scotch shore of the Solway Firth. The place 
had been neglected during the long residence 
of the elder Mr. Mountjoy on the Continent. 
Hugh's present object was to judge, by his 
own investigation, of the. necessity for repairs. 

On the departure of his guest, Mr. Henley 
(still obstinately hopeful of the marriage on 
which he had set his mind) assumed a jocular 
manner towards Iris, and asked if tlie Scotch 
cottage was to be put in order for the honey- 
moon. Her reply, gently as it was expressed, 
threw him into a state of fury. His vindictive 


temper revelled, not only in harsh words, but 
m spiteful actions. He sold one of his dogs 
which had specially attached itself to Iris ; 
and, seeing that she still enjoyed the country, 
he decided on returning^ to London. 

She submitted in silence. But the events 
of that past time, when her father's merci- 
less conduct had driven her out of his house, 
returned ominously to her memory. She said 
to herself: 'Is a day comhig when I shall 
leave him again ? ' It was coming— and slie 
little knew how. 




E. HENLEY'S lioiisehold had been 
again establislied in London, when 
a servant appeared one morning 
with a visiting card, and announced that a 
gentleman had called wlio wislied to see Miss 
Henley. She looked at the card. The gentle- 
man was Mr. Yimpany. 

On the ]x^int of directing the man to say 
tliat she was engaged, L^is checked herself. 

Mrs. Yimpany 's farewell words had pro- 
duced a strong impression on her. There had 
been moments of doubt and gloom in her later 
life when the remembrance of that unhappy 
woman was associated with a feeling (perhaps 


a morbid feeling) of self-reproacli.. It seemed 
to be hard on the poor penitent wretch not to 
have written to her. Was she still leadino' 
the same dreary life in the mouldering old 
town ? Or had she made another attempt to 
return to the ungrateful stage? The gross 
husband, impudently presenting himself with 
liis card and his message, could answer tliose 
questions if he could do nothing else. For 
that reason only, Iris decided that she would 
receive j\Ir. Vimpany. 

On entering the room, she found two 
discoveries awaiting her, for wdiicli she was 
entirely unprepared. 

The doctor's personal appearance exhibited 
a strikino^ chans^e ; he was dressed, in accord- 
ance with the strictest notions of professional 
propriety, entirely in black. More remarkable 
still, there happened to be a French novel 
among the books on the table — and that 
novel, Mr. Yinipan}^, barbarous Mr. Yimpany, 


was actually reading with an appearance of 

understanding it ! 

'I seem to surprise you,' said the doctor. 

' Is it this ? ' He held up the French novel as 

he put the question. 

' I must own that I was not aware of 

the range of your accomplishments,' Iris 


' Oh, don't talk of accomplishments I I 

learnt my profession in Paris. For nigh on 

three years I lived among the French medical 
students. Noticing this book on the table, I 
thought I would try whether I had forgotten 
the language — in the time that has passed 
(you know) since those days. Well, my 
memory isn't a good one in most things, but, 
strange to say (force of habit, I suppose), some 
of my French sticks by me still. I hope I see 
you well. Miss Henley. Might I ask if you 
noticed the new address, when I sent up my 
card ? ' 


' I only noticed your name.' 
The doctor produced his pocket-book, and 
took out a second card. With pride he 
pointed to the address : ' 5 Eedburn Eoad, 
Hampstead Heath.' With pride he looked at 
his black clothes. ' Strictly professional, isn't 
it ? ' he said. ' I have bought a new practice ; 
and I have become a new man. It isn't easy 
at first. No, by Jingo — I beg your pardon— 
I was about to say, my own respectability 
rather bothers me ; I shall get used to it in 
time. If you will allow me I'll take a liberty. 
No offence, I hope ? ' 

He produced a handful of his cards, and 
laid them out in a neat little semicircle on the 

' A word of recommendation, when you 
have the chance, would be a friendly act on 
your part,' he explained. 'Capital air in 
Eedburn Eoad, and a fine view of the Heath out 
of the garret windows — but it's rather an out- 


of-the-way situation. Xot that I complain ; 
beggars mustn't be choosers. I should have 
preferred a practice in a fashionable part 
of London ; but our little windfall of 


He came to a full stop in the middle of a 
sentence. The sale of the superb diamond 
pin, by means of which Lord Harry had 
repaid Mrs. Yimpany's services, was, of all 
domestic events, the last which it might be 
wise to mention in the presence of Miss 
Henley. He was awkwardly silent. Taking 
advantage of that circumstance, Iris introduced 
the subject in whicli she felt interested. 

' How is Mrs. Yimpany ? ' she asked. ' 

' Oh, she's all right ! ' 

' Does she like your new house P ' 

The doctor made a strange reply. 'I 
really can't tell you,' he said. 

' Do you mean that Mrs. Yimpany declines 
to express an opinion ? ' 


He laughed. 'In all my experience,' lie 
said, ' I never met with a woman who did 
that ! No, no ; the fact is, my wife and I 
liave parted company. There's no need to 
look so serions about it ! Incompatibility of 
temper, as the saying is, has led us to a 
friendly separation. Equally a relief on both 
sides. She goes her way, and I go mine.' 

His tone -disgusted Iris — and she let him 
see it. 'Is it of any use to ask you for Mrs. 
Yimpany's address ? ' she inquired. 

His atrocious good-humour kept its 
balance as steadily as ever : ' Sorry to disap- 
point you. Mrs. Yimpany hasn't given me 
lier address. Curious, isn't it? The fact is, 
slie moped a good deal, after you left us ; 
talked of her duty, and the care of her soul, 
and that sort of thing. When I hear where 
she is, I'll let you know with pleasure. To 
the best of my belief, she's doing nurse's work 


'Nurse's worki What do you mean ? ' 

' Oh, the right thmg — all in the fashion. 
She belongs to what they call a Sisterhood ; 
goes about, you know, in a shabby black 
gown, with a poke bonnet. At least, so Lord 
Harry told me the other day.' 

In spite of herself, Iris betrayed the agita- 
tion which those words instantly roused in her. 
'Lord Harry!' she exclaimed. 'Where is 
he ? In London ? ' 

' Yes-^at Parker's Hotel.' 

' When did he return ? ' 

' Oh, a few days ago ; and — what do j^ou 
think? — he's come back from the gold-fields a 
lucky man. Damn it, I've let the cat out of 
the bag ! I was to keep the thing a secret 
from everybody, and from you most particu- 
larly. He's got some surprise in store for you. 
Don't tell him what I've done ! We had 
a little misunderstanding, in past days, at 
Honeybuzzard — and, now we are friends 


again, I don't want to lose his lordship's 

Iris promised to be silent. But to know 
that the wild lord was in England again, and 
to remain in ignorance whether he had, or 
liad not, returned with the stain of bloodshed 
on him, was more than she could endure. 

' There is one question I must ask you,' she 
said. ' I have reason to fear that Lord Harry 

left this country, with a purpose of revenge -' 

Mr. Yimpany wanted no further explana- 
tion. 'Yes, yes ; I know. You may be easy 
about that. There's been no mischief done, 
either one way or the otlier. The man he 
Avas after, when lie landed in South Africa (he 
told me so himself), has escaped him.' 

With that reply, the doctor got up in a 
hurry to bring his visit to an end. He pro- 
posed to take to flight, he remarked face- 
tiously, before Miss Henley wheedled him into 
saying anything more. 


Alter opening the duor, liowevcr, lie 
suddenly returned to Iris, and added a last 
word m the strictest confidence. 

' If you won't forget to recommend me to 
your friends,' he said, 'I'll trust you with 
another secret. You will see his lordship in 
a day or two, when he returns from the races. 

The races ! What was Lord Harry doing 
at the races ? 















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